St. Petersburg, FL – Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb bounced back nicely from a subpar outing, tossing his first career shutout, and the Rays posted a 5-0 win over the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series between postseason hopefuls.
Cobb (8-8) limited the A's to four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. The right-hander had tied a career high with eight runs allowed last Saturday against the Angels.
"There was just an excitement all week," Cobb said. "I'm really happy I felt that way toward it instead of being scared and wonder if I'm going to get hit around again."
Tampa Bay improved to 16-5 in August and is closing in on first-place New York. The Rays are 2 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
The Rays did all their damage in the fifth inning, scoring five runs off Oakland starter Tyson Ross (2-9).
Ross was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to start Thursday's opener in place of Bartolo Colon, who began serving a 50-game suspension on Wednesday after violating the league's drug policy by testing positive for testosterone.
Oakland, one of a handful of teams contending for a wild card spot, lost for the second time in eight games.
Jeff Keppinger singled to begin the Rays' fifth and Luke Scott narrowly missed a home run, doubling off the top of the wall in right field. Ryan Roberts then drove in Keppinger with a sacrifice fly to center. After Jose Molina walked, Sam Fuld lined a run-scoring single to right.
Ross fanned B.J. Upton for the second out, but Matt Joyce plated a pair by doubling into the right-field corner. Evan Longoria capped the offensive surge with an RBI single.
"It's a situation I'm going to have to pitch out of in the future," Ross said.
Oakland shortstop Stephen Drew, acquired on Monday from Arizona, singled in the fourth to snap an 0-for-22 skid ... Ross gave up nine hits, walked two and struck out six over six-plus innings ... This series will conclude Saturday because the Rays' Tropicana Field is going to host a party for the Republican National Convention on Sunday ... Oakland and Tampa Bay split the first six meetings this season.