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A's fall to Rays late in battle of the bullpens

September 15, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Oakland ran out of ammunition against Tampa Bay during a 7-5 loss in a battle of the bullpens on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Jake Bauers' three-run shot off Oakland reliever Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the eighth was the difference in a contest that saw

ST. PETERSBURG -- Oakland ran out of ammunition against Tampa Bay during a 7-5 loss in a battle of the bullpens on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Jake Bauers' three-run shot off Oakland reliever Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the eighth was the difference in a contest that saw the clubs combine to use 14 pitchers during a designated bullpen game.
Oakland had scoring chances throughout the game but couldn't come up with the big hit to break things open.
"We had an opportunity to come through and they had an opportunity to come through," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And when it did, they did come through."
After a scoreless first inning from opener Liam Hendriks, Kevin Kiermaier led off the second with a broken-bat infield single off Oakland reliever Dean Kiekhefer. The next batter, Brandon Lowe, turned on a 1-0 hanging slider from the lefty for his fifth home run of the season to give the Rays an early lead.
"We had lefties in a row, so we were going to use Kiekhefer there," Melvin said. "He makes a good pitch to Kiermaier that breaks his bat that you either let go or catch it. Then it bounces off his glove, then he makes a bad pitch to Lowe and it's two runs."
Jed Lowrie answered for the A's in the third inning with an RBI single, but Oakland left two men on base in the frame after registering three consecutive outs.

The A's tied things up in the sixth thanks to a solo blast from Matt Olson that cleared the wall in right field in a hurry. According to Statcast™, Olson's career-high 27th home run had an exit velocity of 104.1 mph and a launch angle of 31.4 degrees.

The Rays moved back ahead in the bottom half of the frame. After reliever Yusmeiro Petit walked leadoff man Joey Wendle, Kiermaier drilled a line drive into the right-field corner for an RBI triple. Bauers followed that up with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2 Rays.
Oakland retied the game in the seventh when Marcus Semien scored on a double into the left-center gap by pinch-hitter Mark Canha. Canha later tied the game on a passed ball by catcher Nick Ciuffo.

Chapman also launched a 434-foot solo home run according to Statcast™ -- his 23rd round-tripper of the season -- in the top of the ninth. Chapman finished the night 3-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to five games.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Oakland had a chance to blow the game open in the top of the eighth. Olson and Stephen Piscotty had consecutive one-out singles off Vidal Nuno to start things off. A walk by Ramon Laureano loaded the bases. Nuno struck out Semien but was replaced by reliever Andrew Kittredge, who got Canha to ground weakly into a 5-4 force out.

"I looked at the box on the computer and it was not in the strike zone," Semien said, of his called strikeout. "That's the facts."
After the inning was over, Melvin had words with home-plate umpire Larry Vanover, resulting in Melvin's ejection.
"Obviously, I thought [strike three on Semien] was outside, or I wouldn't have been arguing the way I did," Melvin said. "It is what it is. These games are going to be emotional, and the closer we get to the end, the more emotional we're going to be."
SOUND SMART
Saturday 's ejection was the 19th of Melvin's career in Oakland and his second this season.

HE SAID IT
"The other teams that could have a potential hundred wins were forecasted to do that." -- Melvin, on being one of four potential 100-win teams in the American League
UP NEXT
The A's will wrap up their final East Coast road trip of the season on Sunday with a 10:10 a.m. PT matinee against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Righty Mike Fiers (12-6, 3.29 ERA) will look to remain unbeaten in an Oakland uniform. The veteran is 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his seven starts since being acquired by the A's on Aug. 6. The Rays will go with a bullpen day for a third consecutive game, and tabbed Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.31) as the opener.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.