A day after they blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning against the Tigers, the Oakland Athletics nearly lost another late lead on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
However, thanks to Jed Lowrie’s clutch RBI double in the eighth, the A’s prevailed 4-3 against the Rays in a matchup between two teams with low payrolls, but playoff aspirations.
Coco Crisp led off the eighth inning with a single against Rays’ ace David Price, who was relieved by Joel Peralta after that point. Later in the inning, with Crisp on second and one out, Lowrie lined a hit down the right field line that easily scored Crisp for the go-ahead run.
The other headline of the game was a “welcome back” party for Kurt Suzuki.
Down 1-0 in the fifth, the A’s caught a break when sure-handed shortstop Ben Zobrist committed an error on a ground ball by Alberto Callaspo that allowed Callaspo to move to second. Then, with runners on first and second with one out, Suzuki drilled a three-run homer to left field to put the A’s in front. It certainly must have felt good for Suzuki, who was playing in his first game in the Coliseum since being traded back to the A’s.
Jarrod Parker had another fantastic outing, allowing just a run through seven innings. However, in the eighth, the A’s bullpen would squander the lead. After the first two runners reached base, Ryan Cook relieved Parker. The Rays scored a run on a sac fly, then James Loney doubled past the dive of Chris Young to knock in another run and tie the game. But Cook escaped the inning with no further damage, striking out Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson.
Parker’s final line was three runs on six hits in seven innings pitched, although two of the runs charged to him were scored off Cook.
With the A’s up by a run in the ninth, Grant Balfour closed things out, somewhat atoning for blowing the save on Thursday.