ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hideo Nomo's best performance of the season moved him a step closer to another milestone in an outstanding career.
The 36-year-old right-hander took a shutout into the eighth inning Thursday, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held on for a 2-1 victory that left Nomo one win shy of the 200 he needs for membership in the Meikyuakai -- one of two Hall of Fame equivalents in Japanese baseball.
"I'm not too concerned about the 199th win. I'm just glad our team was able to win the last three games," Nomo said through an interpreter after the Devil Rays finished a sweep of the struggling Athletics, who have dropped five straight and 14 of 17.
"My career is not going to be over after I get to 200. I'll keep pitching after my 200th win, and I just want to keep helping this team win. That's what I'm focused on."
Nomo struck out seven and walked two before leaving the game after giving up a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro and a one-out single to Jason Kendall in the eighth. The bullpen then protected a one-run lead to give him his 121st victory in 11 major league seasons.
There are two Hall of Fame equivalents in Nomo's homeland -- the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame, which includes elected members, and the Meikyuakai, which is automatic for players with 2,000 career hits and pitchers with 200 victories.
The Meikyukai currently has 44 members, 15 pitchers.
"One more," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "Let's hope he gets it the next time out."
It took Nomo (3-4) seven tries to get No. 199. He allowed five hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, and won for the first time since beating Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium on April 19.
Trever Miller got two outs in the eighth, and Danys Baez worked the ninth for his sixth save in nine opportunities.
"To me, this is the best game he's pitched this year," Piniella said of Nomo, who threw 105 pitches -- 70 for strikes.
"He was hitting his spots really well, had a lot of called strikes, which tells me he's throwing the ball where the hitters can't get at it too easy. He really was in command the whole way."
A night after scoring 10 runs in the first inning and finishing with 15 hits -- nine for extra bases -- in a 14-6 victory, Tampa Bay's bats went silent against a pitcher who hasn't won since April 18.
Carl Crawford had two of Tampa Bay's four hits off Dan Haren (1-7), including an RBI single that gave the Devil Rays a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Julio Lugo followed with a run-scoring single to make it 2-0.
Haren limited the Devil Rays to Crawford's leadoff single in the first, retiring 16 in a row before Nick Green tripled with two outs in the sixth. Crawford's second hit put Tampa Bay ahead, and the two-time AL stolen base champion trotted home on Lugo's RBI single after stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch.
Haren's six-game losing streak equals the longest of his career. Thursday's loss dropped Oakland (17-29) a season-high 12 games under .500 -- the farthest the A's have been under .500 since they finished the 1998 season at 74-88.
"It's been a very difficult year for me and for the team," Haren said. "It's really wearing on me. I feel like I've been throwing the ball pretty good right now and I'm just not getting any results at all."
The Oakland right-hander allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked none.
The A's couldn't take advantage, though, because of a lack of timely hitting against Nomo.
"There's not a person in the clubhouse that's not frustrated or embarrassed by the way we've been playing," Kendall said. "At the same time, we're not going to go out and throw in the towel. We've got four months left. Scratch and claw until we get out of it. It's all you can do."
The Devil Rays' double-digit first inning Wednesday was the third in that inning in the majors this month. St. Louis scored 11 against San Diego on May 8, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had 10 against Cincinnati on May 6. From 2000-04, it happened just four times. ... Oakland's Nick Swisher was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position the past two games and is 0-for-his-last-16 in those situations. ... Lugo has 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He's batting .371 with men in scoring position.