ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — James Shields struck out 12 in seven innings and Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena homered Wednesday night, helping Tampa Bay beat the Oakland Athletics 10-3 for the Rays' 13th win in 15 games.
Shields (3-0) allowed a first-inning home run, then limited the A's to five hits and an unearned run over the next six innings. He walked one and matched his career high for strikeouts as the AL East leaders finished a sweep of a two-game series.
Longoria and Pena led off the sixth with consecutive homers off reliever Brad Kilby and each had two RBIs. They also drove in runs off starter Dallas Braden (3-1) during Tampa Bay's six-run fifth inning.
The Rays improved the best record in the major leagues to 16-5, setting a franchise record for victories in April. They went 9-14 in the opening month of 2009 and were unable to overcome the slow start after reaching the World Series the previous season.
Daric Barton ended a career-long, 41-game homerless streak with his first-inning shot off Shields. But the Oakland first baseman also committed two errors, with each allowing a run to score.
Shields gave up an unearned run on shortstop Jason Bartlett's fourth-inning throwing error. Oakland's Adam Rosales hit a solo homer off reliever Andy Sonnanstine in the ninth.
The A's wasted opportunities to get to Shields in the fourth and fifth, going 0-for-6 and striking out five times with runners in scoring position in those innings. Eric Patterson also was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from first base on Rosales' double down the left field line.
Tampa Bay pulled away from a 2-2 tie in the fifth, with help from a wild pitch with the bases loaded and a second error by Barton that allowed a run to score. The Rays went ahead on Longoria's RBI double off Braden, and Pena, pinch hitter Reid Brignac and John Jaso also drove in runs in the inning.
Braden, trying to become the first Oakland pitcher to go 4-0 in April since Mike Moore in 1992, allowed six runs and eight hits in four-plus innings. Entering the game, he had limited opponents to a .198 batting average, sixth lowest in the AL.
Notes: Rays C Dioner Navarro finished a two-game suspension for bumping an umpire during an argument. ... Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon received a hoodie in the mail from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which he plans to display in his office. "It's very cool," Maddon said. He plans to send Belichick a Tampa Bay hoodie. ... Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (left arm strained flexor) will be shut down from throwing for two weeks. He was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. ... Rays LHP J.P Howell (strained left shoulder) threw 30 pitches in his first bullpen session. He will increase the total to 35-40 on Friday and is targeting a return in about one month. ... Oakland C Kurt Suzuki (left side soreness) was in the original starting lineup but was scratched after batting practice. He has missed four straight games.