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Khrush mashes MLB-best 42nd HR to beat Rays

A's reach 90 wins, gain ground on Houston in AL West
September 14, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Khris Davis was "klutch" when his team needed him the most, just as he has been all season.Davis led off the top of the 10th inning with a towering home run to the deepest part of the field to give Oakland a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG -- Khris Davis was "klutch" when his team needed him the most, just as he has been all season.
Davis led off the top of the 10th inning with a towering home run to the deepest part of the field to give Oakland a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field on Friday night. It was the 18th time that one of his home runs accounted for the go-ahead runs in the game. Oakland is 2 1/2 games behind Houston, which lost to Arizona, in the American League West. The A's remained 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card spot.
"I wasn't thinking about the score too much," he said of the game-winning homer. "It was just good timing."
The blast, which landed just out of reach of a leaping Kevin Kiermaier, was Davis' Major League-leading 42nd home run of the season. It also gave the A's their 12th extra-inning win of the season, tied for second-most in the Majors. 
"I've always said he's one swing away from winning the game for you," manager Bob Melvin said. "Over the years, he's developed a knack for hitting good pitching and hitting dramatic homers late in games."
Before Davis' heroics against Jaime Schultz, Oakland had little success against a menagerie of Rays relievers. Eight different pitchers held the A's offense to just one run on two hits in regulation.
"There was a lot going on for nothing going on as far the score goes," Melvin said.

After being held hitless through the first three innings by Rays opener Diego Castillo and reliever Ryne Stanek, Matt Chapman finally broke through against reliever Ryan Yarbrough in the top of the fourth with a well-placed double down the left-field line. It was his 23rd two-bagger and 38th extra-base hit since the All-Star break, the most in MLB. Yarbrough then intentionally walked Davis to set up a potential force out. Matt Olson thwarted those plans by slapping a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield for Oakland's first run of the game.
The Rays got that back in the bottom of the frame after Tommy Pham turned a blooper into shallow center into a double and scored on an RBI single by Joey Wendle. That would be all the offense the Rays would muster against starter Edwin Jackson, who finished his night allowing the one earned run on four hits over five innings. The former Devil Ray walked two and struck out three in the no-decision against his former club.

"That's fun baseball to be playing right now," Jackson said. "Every day it's a different hero, a different person coming through in clutch situations."
Closer Blake Treinen pitched two scoreless innings to pick up his seventh win of the season. He has not allowed a hit in his last 11 1/3 innings or an earned run in 21 of his last 22 appearances.

Reliever Shawn Kelley dug a hole and then jumped out of it on his own in the bottom of the sixth. Mallex Smith legged out an infield single to lead things off. The next batter, Matt Duffy dragged a bunt in an attempt to move Smith into scoring position that turned into an infield single when Kelley was late in covering the bag. Kelley then uncorked a wild pitch to put men on second and third with no out. After getting Ji-Man Choi to strike out looking and Pham to pop out to shallow right, Kelley intentionally walked Wendle to load the bases for Willy Adames. Kelley ended the threat by freezing Adames with a 2-2 cutter that caught just enough of the outside corner for strike three.
"That was a Houdini inning," Melvin said. "That was the key of the game because they have a chance to score multiple runs there and didn't get anything out of it. That really shifts the momentum back into the other dugout."

Friday's victory pushed Oakland's win total to 90 on the season. The A's have reached that plateau seven times since 2000. Only the Yankees (13), Red Sox (12) and Cardinals (10) have reached 90 wins in a season more times this century.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy stifled a potential rally by the Rays by gunning down Kiermaier trying to steal in the fifth. Had the veteran backstop not cut down the potential go-ahead run at second base, the Rays would have had two men on with the top of the order coming to the plate.

"That changed any kind of momentum they had and eliminated me from having a big inning," Jackson said.
Lucroy also caught Smith trying to swipe second in the bottom of the first to bring his Major League-leading total of runners caught stealing to 25.

"I don't know, I've never been to the playoffs. I think this late in the season when we are competing for a spot, every game is precious." -- Davis, on if the game had a 'playoff atmosphere'
Oakland will go with Liam Hendriks as the opener on a designated bullpen day for the middle game of a three-game set on Saturday at 3:10 p.m. PT. Hendriks (0-1, 5.94 ERA) has strung together three consecutive scoreless outings in his last three appearances in that role. The Rays will counter with an opener of their own in Stanek (2-3, 2.58).

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