St. Petersburg, FL – Evan Longoria belted a two-run homer while Jose Lobaton and Ben Zobrist each had two RBI to push the Tampa Bay Rays over the Oakland Athletics, 8-3, in the opener of a three-game set.
The Rays were coming off a disappointing 2-7 road trip and were in risk of falling six games below .500 for the first time since 2008, but went 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday to back a quality start by Alex Cobb (2-1), who scattered three runs and 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings.
"I had a bunch of pitches working for me tonight and that let me keep them off balance," said Cobb. "They're an aggressive team at the plate and when you can get strikes on them early that opens things up for you on the mound."
Oakland starter Brett Anderson (1-3) left early after suffering a sprained ankle. The Rays batted around in the first inning against the left-hander and scored four times thanks to four hits and two walks in his only inning of work.
"I thought he was more aggressive today but they hit some pitches and he got behind in the count with some hitters," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin about Anderson. "It was just a tough night for him and they're going to happen."
Evan Scribner followed Anderson and also gave up four runs over three innings as the A's had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Jed Lowrie went 4-for-4 with an RBI to highlight Oakland's offense. Lowrie and Brandon Moss both recorded run-scoring singles in the top of the first, but the Rays answered with four runs in their half.
Zobrist singled in Desmond Jennings and scored on Sean Rodriguez's two-out single, and Lobaton stepped in with the bases loaded and sent a base hit to left-center to bring in a pair for a 4-2 lead.
Ryan Roberts tacked on an RBI single in the third after Shelley Duncan led off the home half with a double, and a three-spot in the fourth made it an 8-2 game as Zobrist knocked in Jennings with another single before Longoria smashed his fourth home run of the season over the left field wall.
Coco Crisp hit a solo homer off Cobb in the seventh, but the A's stranded two runners in the eighth and wasted a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the ninth to fall short.
Three of Oakland's five losses this season have come in Anderson's four starts ... Crisp extended his hitting streak to 12 games ... The Rays had been in a 1-for-22 slump with two outs and runners in scoring position prior to Lobaton's hit in the first inning ... The A's went 2-for-12 with RISP.