Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash watched the Rays struggle through the first half of their longest road trip of the season, including a walkoff loss a day earlier in Oakland.
Cash nearly emptied his bullpen Friday to get the Rays back on track.
A handful of stellar defensive plays, including one by shortstop Willy Adames, proved just as important.
Adames homered and threw out a runner at home, and the Rays snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Athletics.
“It took every bit of our roster, of our pitching staff, to get it done,” Cash said. “We made some big pitches when we needed to, some tremendous plays defensively and some timely hitting. We had a rough go for three days in New York and then last night kind of was the icing on the cake. It was good to see the guys bounce back and find a way to win.”
The Rays entered the game with the second-best road record in the majors, despite getting swept in three games by the Yankees before losing to the A’s on Thursday when closer Diego Castillo blew his first save.
Oakland kept it close again and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth before Emilio Pagán retired pinch-hitter Mark Canha on a comebacker, then got Marcus Semien to ground out to end it.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit, but that’s going to happen in baseball,” Adames said. “Finally we got this win. It’s important. It got us our confidence back.”
Adames finished with three hits. Second baseman Brandon Lowe doubled twice and made a stellar defensive play, one of several by the Rays defense.
Matt Olson and Ramón Laureano homered for Oakland. Semien was 0 for 5, ending his career-high 17-game hitting streak.
Earlier Friday, the A’s lost their top pitcher, Frankie Montas, to an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after the right-hander tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Adames hit his seventh home run of the season off Wei-Chung Wang in the sixth, then singled and scored in the ninth. All seven of Adames homers have come on the road.
Austin Pruitt (1-0), the third of seven Tampa Bay pitchers, retired nine batters and earned the win. Pagán pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
“We pride ourselves on our pitching,” Pagán said. “We let the offense down last night. To be able to come up tonight in big situations is huge. It’s a momentum-builder. If we get going on all cylinders, this team can be really scary. We still haven’t done that yet at any point in the season.”
Lowe’s defense was big for Tampa Bay. He started a pair of double plays in the fourth and fifth, then made a diving stop and strong throw to get Stephen Piscotty to end the sixth.
The Rays made two other defensive gems.
Right fielder Guillermo Heredia threw out Matt Olson in the fifth when Olson attempted to go to second on a single. In the sixth, Khris Davis tried to score from first on Jurickson Profar’s double and was thrown out at the plate on a strong relay throw from shortstop Adames.
The A’s challenged, but the call was confirmed.
“(Davis) was being aggressive and when it happened I was all for it,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said “We thought maybe (catcher Travis d’Arnaud) was blocking the plate.”
A’s starter Tanner Anderson (0-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings.
NOT A BAD OPENING
Andrew Kittredge became the latest Rays pitcher to be used as an opener, and the right-hander got passing grades in his debut in the role this season. Kittredge allowed two hits in two innings, walked one and struck out three.
A’s manager Bob Melvin returned to the Coliseum after missing Thursday’s comeback win because of a sore neck. Melvin received injections to relieve some of the pain he’s been experiencing since training camp.
Oakland reliever Joakim Soria made his 673rd career appearance when he entered in the eighth. That ties Dennys Reyes for most games by a Mexican-born pitcher.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea pitched a second simulated game in Arizona on Thursday and will likely begin a rehab assignment soon.
Oakland righty Mike Fiers (7-3, 4.28 ERA) pitches Saturday and is looking to extend an unbeaten streak that began May 7 when he no-hit the Cincinnati Reds. Fiers beat the Rays on June 11. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has not named a starter.
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