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(Thursday, May 22nd)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 5, Oakland 2 (11 innings)
St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Rodriguez's three-run homer capped a fierce rally in the bottom of the 11th inning that propelled the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 decision over Oakland, halting the Athletics' five- game winning streak.
The Rays appeared on the verge of a fifth straight defeat in the finale of this three-game set after Oakland scored once in the top of the 11th, but Desmond Jennings came through with a two-out RBI single off Dan Otero (4-1) in front of Rodriguez's walk-off blast against Luke Gregerson.
Yoenis Cespedes plated Josh Donaldson with a sacrifice fly in the A's half of the 11th, two innings after he forced extras with an RBI double off former Oakland closer Grant Balfour in the ninth.
The game's earlier stages featured a terrific pitchers' duel between A's hurler Sonny Gray and Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb, who returned from an oblique strain to limit Oakland to three hits and a pair of walks over 6 2/3 brilliant innings in his first start since April 12.
Gray allowed just one run on five hits and two walks in eight strong innings of work.
Jennings finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored for the Rays. Donaldson and John Jaso each had two hits in the loss, just Oakland's second in its last 13 games.
"It's always nice to win a series, but when you've won two and you're ahead, not being able to close it out is a little disappointing," Athletics manager Bob Melvin remarked.
With Cobb displaying no rust from his layoff, the Rays were poised to prevail in regulation. However, Balfour served up a leadoff single to Jaso in the ninth and walked Donaldson two batters before Cespedes ripped a one-out double into the left-field corner to easily bring in pinch-runner Craig Gentry for a 1-1 tie.
Jed Lowrie was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but Balfour managed to avert further damage by getting Josh Reddick to fly out to short left before retiring Alberto Callaspo.
Donaldson opened the 11th with a double against Josh Lueke (1-2) and was moved to third on a Brandon Moss groundout, setting up Cespedes' fly ball to left that gave Oakland its first lead of the contest.
It turned out to be short-lived, as Evan Longoria singled off Otero to begin the bottom of the 11th and James Loney delivered a two-out base hit to keep Tampa alive. Jennings followed with a single up the middle to knot the score at 2-2 and bring Gregerson on in relief.
Gregerson initially got ahead of Rodriguez, who golfed a low slider on a 2-2 count just inside the foul-pole in left to end it.
"I think that is a win, right there, that hopefully can propel us," said Longoria. "Being down late and then being able to respond the way that we did and finally get a big hit right there. Kudos to Roddy, that's a great at-bat."
Cobb began his sharp stint with a pair of first-inning strikeouts and permitted just one baserunner -- a walk to Callaspo -- from the second through fifth.
Oakland finally put the right-hander in a jam when Jaso followed a two-out single by Coco Crisp with a double in the sixth. But after pitching around Donaldson to load the bases, Cobb retired Moss on a grounder to keep the contest scoreless.
"He was outstanding," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "Having been off as long as he had, you saw the stuff, the strike throwing, the competitive nature."
Gray nearly matched his counterpart pitch-for-pitch. He was touched for three singles that loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the third, but induced an inning-ending flyout from Wil Myers to begin a stretch of 10 straight Tampa hitters retired.
That streak ended when Loney drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh before being erased on a force play. Cole Figueroa then sent Jennings to third with his first career major league hit, and Yunel Escobar broke the scoreless deadlock by lacing a single up the middle.
Cobb now owns a streak of 21 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings and hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts ... Donaldson singled in the first inning to extend his streak of reaching safely on the road to 27 games, the longest by an A's player since Eric Chavez had 27 from July 22-Sept. 16, 2005 ... The Rays improved to 15-5 this season when their starting pitcher lasts six innings or more ... Crisp and Lowrie both returned to the Oakland lineup after missing time with strained necks. Lowrie sat out the series' first two games, while Crisp did not play in Wednesday's 3-2 win.
05/22 23:17:51 ET
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