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Davis' grand slam too little, too late vs. Rays

Fiers loses his first game with Oakland, which musters just 4 hits
September 16, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Khris Davis' grand slam made things interesting, but it wasn't enough as the Athletics fell, 5-4, to the Rays in the series finale on Sunday at Tropicana Field."It was literally until the last out, but unfortunately, we came up a run short," manager Bob Melvin said.Other than

ST. PETERSBURG -- Khris Davis' grand slam made things interesting, but it wasn't enough as the Athletics fell, 5-4, to the Rays in the series finale on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
"It was literally until the last out, but unfortunately, we came up a run short," manager Bob Melvin said.
Other than a chaotic ninth, Oakland, which faced bullpen days from Tampa Bay in each game of the series, had no answers for the relentless stream of relievers the Rays marched out Sunday.
Oakland picked up its first hit of the game on a fifth-inning single from Matt Olson, who led an eighth-inning charge that also ultimately proved fruitless.
Oakland's Mike Fiers, the team's best starter since being acquired in August, ran into trouble early, hitting Matt Duffy with a pitch to lead off the first inning. Two batters later, C.J. Cron crushed a 1-0 slider that stayed over the center of the plate for a two-run home run.
Fiers' outing could have been worse. Kevin Kiermaier led off the second with an infield single. Fiers then walked Willy Adames and Jake Bauers to load the bases with no outs, but was able to escape the rally unscathed after coaxing Jesus Sucre into a double play and inducing a weak groundout from Matt Duffy.

"I was kind of all over the place," Fiers said. "I felt like I couldn't really get in a rhythm. This game's all about momentum, so coming out of that first inning, giving up that two-run homer and then keeping the guys out there on the field for a long time and not making quality pitches, that hurt."
Fiers had problems putting away batters with two strikes for much of his outing. With the count full, Adames added another Rays run in the fourth with a solo homer to left. Fiers took the loss -- his first in an A's uniform -- after allowing three earned runs on four hits. He walked three, struck out two and threw 80 pitches (45 for strikes) over his four innings.
"On a day when you don't have your best stuff, to keep battling like that, when we have the propensity to come back," Melvin said. "I know it was only four innings, but he still kept us in a decent spot."
Rays reliever Jake Faria made things interesting in the ninth after leading off the inning with consecutive walks to Matt Joyce, Nick Martini and Matt Chapman to load the bases with no outs. Reliever Jose Alvarado struck out Jed Lowrie before making way for closer Sergio Romo. Davis jumped on a first-pitch slider from Romo for his league-leading 43rd home run. The slam was the second of his career.
Davis' 41 home runs as a designated hitter trails only David Ortiz (47 in 2006; 43 in '05) for most in a season.
"He's just one of the best hitters in the league," Melvin said.
SOUND SMART
Oakland went 21-11 against the teams in the American League East in 2018 -- the second-best record in the league behind Boston (.716 winning pct.) -- but went 2-5 against the Rays this season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With Cory Gearrin on the mound in the fifth, Martini made an acrobatic leaping catch on the warning track that saved a potential extra-base hit. On a 3-1 count, Ji-Man Choi sliced a liner to the opposite field. Martini, who was shaded toward the line, broke back on the ball and was able to track it down at the apex of his leap.

HE SAID IT
"It was good to see on a day that we look like we are dragging a little bit, or a little bit flat, to be able to put up a four-spot like that." -- Melvin, on fighting to the end
UP NEXT
Oakland will have an off-day Monday before beginning a six-game homestand against the Angels. The team will use Liam Hendriks (0-1, 5.60 ERA) as the opener on a designated bullpen day Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT, with Daniel Mengden tentatively scheduled to follow him on the bump. The Angels will send left-hander Tyler Skaggs to the mound.

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