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Giambi hits first homer since returning to A's in victory

CBSSports.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jason Giambi wasn't as concerned with hitting his first home run of the season as he was with getting his batting stroke back in order.

Oakland's veteran slugger accomplished both against Tampa Bay, hitting a solo homer and scoring twice in the Athletics' 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

"I just was more worried about taking good at-bats," said Giambi, after the A's ended their five-game losing streak. "We went on that road trip ... and I just got beat up a little bit. Then you start pressing and you start trying to swing harder to make up for it. Hopefully I can keep working and relax up there now."

It was the 396th career home run for Giambi, who signed a $5.25 million, one-year contract to return to Oakland after spending the past seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

It was also just the seventh homer hit this season by Oakland, the fewest in the majors.

But with Travis Buck also hitting a home run and Nomar Garciaparra adding a three-run double, the A's believe their offense is ready to break out of its early season slump.

"I've said it all spring, it's nothing new to us that this thing is going to happen," winning pitcher Dallas Braden said. "[Giambi] feels energized by it, and I think we all kind of got an uplifting spirit just watching him do what he does as he's creeping ever closer to that milestone."

Braden (2-2) allowed one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for Oakland, which had dropped nine of 12 before beating Tampa Bay for its first win in a day game this season.

The A's lefty, who is the only Oakland starting pitcher to win a game this season, left after walking Pat Burrell to load the bases in the sixth. Braden told manager Bob Geren he tweaked his groin an inning earlier but downplayed the injury afterward.

"It was just more of a precautionary thing," Braden said. "No reason to try and battle. Heroes are made in September and October, not April."

Brad Ziegler pitched 1 1/3 shutout innings for his fourth save in five opportunities.

Matt Garza (1-2) gave up four runs in the loss. He struck out six in 5 2/3 innings but walked four, three of which scored.

"That one inning I tried to make the perfect pitch too many times and it cost me," Garza said. "I was kind of being stubborn, saying to myself that my two-seam was better than my four. I gave up one hit that inning and it cost me three runs and it cost us the game."

The homers by Giambi and Buck were shots in the arm for an Oakland team that went into the game last in the majors in numerous offensive categories, including scoring, home runs, hits, RBI and batting average.

Garciaparra, another offseason acquisition, made his first start defensively since injuring his right calf against Boston on April 14. He hit a three-run double in the fourth after Garza walked the bases loaded, then later singled to raise his batting average from .188 to .222.

The Rays scored their runs on Akinori Iwamura's RBI single in the fifth and Burrell's run-scoring single in the eighth.

Notes

  • A's RHP Justin Duchscherer, the projected opening day starter, remains on schedule while recovering from elbow surgery.
  • Tampa Bay RHP Jason Isringhausen threw a scoreless inning in his third rehab outing Friday, an encouraging sign for the one-time closer. "[Isringhausen] felt good; his arm strength is building up and he's starting to feel better about repeating his delivery," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's getting stronger and making progress." Maddon said Isringhausen will make at least two more minor league appearances before the team decides what to do.
  • Pena and Iwamura will get a scheduled day off Sunday.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jason Giambi reminds A's fans of what he can still do, clubbing his first HR since returning to Oakland.  (AP)
Jason Giambi reminds A's fans of what he can still do, clubbing his first HR since returning to Oakland. (AP)

Players of the Game
Oakland

N. Garciaparra
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Tampa Bay

A. Iwamura
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Tampa Bay Rays
B.J. Upton, CF4000110 .171
Carl Crawford, LF4110011 .284
Evan Longoria, 3B3010111 .375
Carlos Pena, 1B3000113 .243
Pat Burrell, DH3011100 .250
Gabe Kapler, RF2110000 .222
   a- Gabe Gross, PH-RF2010013 .214
Jason Bartlett, SS4000004 .365
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4021010 .302
Michel Hernandez, C3000002 .222
   b- Ben Zobrist, PH1000000 .278
Totals3327246  
a-struck out for Kapler in the 6th
b-grounded out for Hernandez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Gabe Kapler (5, Braden)
RBI - Pat Burrell (7), Akinori Iwamura (7)
2-OUT RBI - Pat Burrell (3), Akinori Iwamura (7)
Team LOB - 8
Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Garza (L,1-2) 5.2444461 4.97
Grant Balfour 0.1000110 7.94
Brian Shouse 1.1111001 2.57
Troy Percival 0.2100000 4.15
WP - Matt Garza (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 107-62, Grant Balfour 10-4, Brian Shouse 13-8, Troy Percival 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 5-6, Brian Shouse 4-0, Troy Percival 1-1
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 25, Grant Balfour 2, Brian Shouse 5, Troy Percival 3
Oakland Athletics
Ryan Sweeney, CF4010010 .246
Orlando Cabrera, SS3100110 .190
Jason Giambi, 1B3211111 .211
Matt Holliday, LF4000012 .238
Jack Cust, DH3100110 .286
Nomar Garciaparra, 3B4023000 .222
    Jack Hannahan, 3B0000000 .500
Travis Buck, RF3121101 .250
Mark Ellis, 2B3000112 .207
Landon Powell, C3000013 .125
Totals3056557  
Batting
2B - Nomar Garciaparra (1, Garza)
HR - Jason Giambi (1, Shouse), Travis Buck (1, Garza)
RBI - Jason Giambi (7), Nomar Garciaparra 3 (6), Travis Buck (4)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Giambi (4)
SB - Travis Buck (1, 2nd base off Percival/Hernandez)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Ellis-Cabrera-Giambi
PB - Landon Powell (1)
Oakland Athletics
Dallas Braden (W,2-2) 5.2411320 2.52
Andrew Bailey (H,1) 1.1000020 0.71
Russ Springer 0.2111120 1.08
Brad Ziegler (S,4) 1.1200000 1.74
Pitches-Strikes - Dallas Braden 84-48, Andrew Bailey 20-13, Russ Springer 21-13, Brad Ziegler 24-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dallas Braden 4-10, Andrew Bailey 2-0, Brad Ziegler 4-0
Batters Faced - Dallas Braden 23, Andrew Bailey 4, Russ Springer 4, Brad Ziegler 6
Game Information
Attendance - 15432
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Jeff Kellogg, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Angel Campos