Oakland, CA – With A.J. Griffin's seven sharp innings leading the way, the Oakland Athletics solidified their playoff chances with a 5-1 triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays that completed a sweep of a three-game series.
Griffin (12-9) allowed just a James Loney homer and four other hits while striking out seven, with Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt supporting the right- hander with solo shots of their own to help Oakland post its sixth win in seven outings.
"We're in a good groove right now and looking to keep that going," Griffin said.
The victory moved the A's within a game of Texas for first place in the AL West race and 2 1/2 clear of the reeling Rays for the league's top wild card berth.
"We didn't play enough offense," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you lose games like this, it will get picked over pretty well."
Loney finished 2-for-4 in the loss, the Rays' fourth in a row and seventh in eight games.
Alex Torres (4-1) was dealt a hard-luck defeat after allowing one unearned run over 3 1/3 innings of relief. Making his first start since 2007, Jamey Wright worked the first 1 2/3 frames for Tampa Bay and was touched for a run.
The game's deciding run was aided by a Rays error, with Evan Longoria throwing wildly to first after fielding Jed Lowrie's bunt single to third with the contest knotted at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Lowrie raced all the way to third on the play, then trotted home when Brandon Moss laced a hard single through a drawn-in infield against Torres.
Griffin set down 11 of the next 12 hitters after inheriting the lead, and the A's were able to protect it with some strong defense in the seventh.
Tampa's Wil Myers doubled with two outs in the inning to put the tying run in scoring position, and Desmond Jennings followed with a single to left. Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes got to the ball quickly and hit cutoff man Josh Donaldson, who fired a strike to home as Vogt applied the tag on Myers to keep it a 2-1 game.
Oakland added some insurance in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of Vogt, who ended an 11-pitch battle with Jake McGee with his third home run of the year, then the A's tacked on two more runs in the eighth.
Rays reliever Josh Lueke got into trouble by walking Moss and giving up a single to Cespedes, with Moss eventually scoring on a Daric Barton single and Cespedes later crossing on Eric Sogard's groundout.
Crisp instantly staked Oakland to a 1-0 lead by clubbing Wright's third pitch of the day into the seats in right for his sixth homer in 11 games. The Rays drew even an inning later, however, on Loney's one-out blast over the wall in right center.
Wright had made 374 consecutive relief appearances since opening for the Texas Rangers against Seattle on Aug. 25, 2007 ... Loney's homer ended a string of 59 consecutive innings for the Rays without one ... Crisp now has 16 homers this season, matching a career high set with Cleveland in 2005. His first- inning blast was his 11th leadoff homer as an Athletic, tied with Bert Campaneris for second-most in club history ... Tampa Bay selected the contract of outfielder Delmon Young, picked up by the team in late August after being released from Philadelphia, from Double-A Montgomery prior to the game while activating designated hitter Luke Scott (back) from the 15-day disabled list. Both were retired as pinch hitters in the top of the eighth.