OAKLAND -- The hot-hitting Rays took batting practice off of Sonny Gray, tagging the struggling A's starter for nine hits in a 7-3 series-opening victory at the Coliseum on Thursday night.Gray was responsible for all seven runs in just five innings, surrendering solo home runs to Tim Beckham and Corey
OAKLAND -- The hot-hitting Rays took batting practice off of Sonny Gray, tagging the struggling A's starter for nine hits in a 7-3 series-opening victory at the Coliseum on Thursday night.
Gray was responsible for all seven runs in just five innings, surrendering solo home runs to Tim Beckham and Corey Dickerson ahead of a four-run attack in the fifth -- featuring five consecutive hits to open the frame -- that put the Rays ahead for good. They've plated 28 runs in their last three games.
"I felt like I had a good approach coming in, and the ball just wasn't coming out like it has been," said Gray, who has yielded 15 home runs, after allowing 17 all of last year. "My breaking stuff was good, but my fastball just wasn't there tonight. It's tough mentally sometimes, but you just gotta continue to battle through it."
Beckham collected hits in each of his first two plate appearances before popping out in the sixth, halting his streak of consecutive at-bats with a hit at eight, tying a Rays club record.
Tampa left-hander Matt Moore was struck for a three-run homer off the bat of Jake Smolinski in the second but retired each of his next 11 batters and got through seven innings in a solid outing, allowing only three other hits.
"Matt was outstanding again," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "One pitch he'd probably like to have back. But other than that, he was incredibly efficient. I liked that he got through the seventh inning there when his pitch count got up a little bit. Not high, but he was working at that point. Really good offspeed stuff."
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Beast mode for Beck: A day after tying a club record with five hits against Colorado, Beckham arrived at the ballpark to find out he would be playing first base for the first time -- ever. And how did he respond? He hit like a first baseman, going deep off Gray in the second to push the Rays' lead to 2-0.
Sonny stumbles: In between home runs by Beckham and Dickerson, Gray fanned four in a row, flashing the kind of stuff that guided him through so many dominants starts of the past. Nearly four months into the season, however, Gray has been unable to find any type of consistency, leaving him with a 5.49 ERA -- which should make it difficult for trade suitors to properly dictate his value. Just last season, he finished third in American League Cy Young voting with a 2.73 ERA. More >
"Today I thought was one of the best breaking balls he had all year," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "A little bit of fastball command issues at times. Velocity kind of dipped and was a little sporadic. Man, you have to give them some credit, too. Every pitch he missed they hit."
"He always goes out there with good stuff," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's just a matter of sustaining it multiple innings, multiple games and getting on a roll. At this point he hasn't been able to do that yet."
Moore of the same: Moore continued his consistent run by going seven innings. He has now pitched six or more innings in nine consecutive starts, extending the longest streak of his career. It's the longest streak by a Ray since Chris Archer went 6-plus innings in nine straight starts from June 23-Aug. 9, 2015. Prior to the streak, Moore had lasted six innings just once in his previous six starts and he'd completed six innings pitched only nine times in his first 23 starts after his return from Tommy John surgery.
A's bats silenced again: After combining to score 27 runs in their first five games out of the break, the A's have been held to three total in their last two contests, managing just four hits in seven innings against the opposing starter in each. Outside of Smolinski's home run, the A's other four hits were all singles Thursday. They dropped to 10-15 against left-handed starters this season.
"I think [Smolinski's home run] kind of woke me up a little bit. It was early in the game and just trying to set the tone by throwing strikes and pounding the zone early. … [Smolinski] put it over the wall, which kind of lights a fire under you." -- Moore on his performance.
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Erasmo Ramírez hit a batter and allowed a base hit to start the ninth, prompting Cash to call for Alex Colomé, who once again delivered, getting the final three outs to record his 21st save in 21 opportunities. Not since Fernando Rodney converted 22 straight in 2012 has a Rays put together a streak that long.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.39) makes his second start of the second half as the Rays play the Athletics in the second game of their four-game series on Friday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Odorizzi pitched well against the Orioles on Sunday, staying out of the big inning and showing his best fastball of the season.
A's: The A's will have left-hander Sean Manaea on the mound for Friday's 7:05 p.m. PT matchup with the Rays at the Coliseum. Manaea, who has a 3.18 ERA in four games since his return from the disabled list, has never faced Tampa.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.