|Tampa Bay (15-5) «||0||4||3||1||0||0||0||0||x||8||12||0|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The best start in baseball truly has been a team effort.
Pitching and defense drives Tampa Bay most nights, although the Rays also have a persistent offense that leads in the AL in runs and tops the major leagues with a .323 batting average with runners in scoring position.
The player delivering crucial hits changes nightly.
"There's nobody just killing it in regard to the typical batting average barometer," Maddon added. "But we've been doing a nice job in situations, and when it matters."
No. 9 hitter Reid Brignac also hit a home run, helping the Rays match a club record for victories through April.
The AL East leaders improved baseball's best record to 15-5. The victory total equals the number they had at the end of April two years ago, when they were 1-0 in March and 14-12 in April.
"To be able to contribute is as important as anything else," said Burrell, who shrugged off a slow start to drive in nine runs while helping Tampa Bay go 9-1 on a road trip that ended last week.
"If you can find a way to have a big at-bat in a game that ends up being important in the outcome," the designated hitter added, "it's kind of why we're all here."
The Rays have won 12 of their past 14 and are off to the best start in the team's 13-season history. Nevertheless, attendance for the opener of a two-game series against another first-place team drew an announced crowd of 10,825 to Tropicana Field.
Davis weathered a shaky five innings to win his second successive decision. He gave up a three-run homer to Cliff Pennington, who had four hits and four RBI -- both career highs -- for the A's.
Pennington's RBI double off Lance Cormier trimmed Oakland's deficit to 8-5 in the sixth. Adam Rosales drove in a run with his career-best fourth hit -- making it 8-6 in the eighth -- however the A's stranded the potential tying runs in scoring position when Daric Barton struck out.
Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for Tampa Bay, earning his fifth save in five opportunities.
The Rays played without catcher Dioner Navarro, who began serving a two-game suspension for bumping an umpire during an argument last week. He also will sit out the series finale Wednesday against the A's.
Jason Bartlett's two-run single was the biggest blow in Tampa Bay's four-run second inning against Sheets, who allowed eight runs and nine hits in four innings. Carlos Pena and John Jaso, filling in for Navarro, also drove in runs in the inning.
"It was absolutely terrible," Sheets said of his shortest outing of the season. "We played good enough to win in all facets of the game except starting pitching. It's disappointing."
But Davis couldn't hold the early lead for Tampa Bay.
The A's struck for four runs of their own in the third, with Pennington's third home run of the season doing most of the damage. The A's went on to load the bases with two outs on a walk and pair of singles before Gabe Gross lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 4-4.
Burrell, 8 for 19 with three home runs against Sheets, put Tampa Bay ahead for good. Brignac's home run leading off the fourth inning restored a four-run lead for Davis, who yielded four runs and seven hits.
"I've found a way to hit Pat's bat a lot," Sheets said. "He's really had his way with me through the years."
|Reid Brignac (right), who gets a handshake from his third-base coach, helps Tampa Bay move to 15-5. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Cliff Pennington, SS||5||1||4||4||0||0||1||.265|
|Daric Barton, 1B||5||0||0||0||0||1||6||.303|
|Ryan Sweeney, RF||5||1||1||0||0||1||0||.299|
|Eric Chavez, DH||4||0||0||0||1||3||0||.220|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B||5||0||1||0||0||2||0||.244|
|Gabe Gross, CF||2||0||1||1||0||1||0||.273|
|a- Jake Fox, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.194|
|Landon Powell, C||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.250|
|Eric Patterson, LF-CF||3||2||1||0||1||0||1||.250|
|Adam Rosales, 2B||4||1||4||1||0||0||0||.313|
|a-grounded out for Gross in the 8th|
|2B - Cliff Pennington 2 (5, Cormier, Balfour), Eric Patterson (1, Balfour)|
|HR - Cliff Pennington (3, Davis)|
|SF - Gabe Gross (1)|
|RBI - Cliff Pennington 4 (15), Gabe Gross (4), Adam Rosales (9)|
|2-OUT RBI - Cliff Pennington (7), Adam Rosales (4)|
|PK - Cliff Pennington (1, Davis)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - Eric Patterson (1, Throwing)|
|Ben Sheets (L,1-2)||4||9||8||8||1||2||2||5.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ben Sheets 78-49, Craig Breslow 24-14, Jerry Blevins 12-9, Brad Ziegler 8-7, Chad Gaudin 12-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ben Sheets 5-4, Chad Gaudin 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Ben Sheets 21, Craig Breslow 4, Jerry Blevins 5, Brad Ziegler 3, Chad Gaudin 4|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||5||0||3||2||0||0||1||.280|
|Carl Crawford, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.303|
|Ben Zobrist, RF||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.250|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||2||0||.320|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||3||2||1||1||1||1||0||.242|
|B.J. Upton, CF||3||2||2||0||1||0||0||.268|
|Pat Burrell, DH||4||1||1||3||0||0||2||.231|
|John Jaso, C||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.500|
|Reid Brignac, 2B||4||1||1||1||0||1||3||.286|
|2B - Evan Longoria (6, Sheets), John Jaso (3, Sheets)|
|HR - Pat Burrell (2, Sheets), Reid Brignac (2, Sheets)|
|RBI - Jason Bartlett 2 (12), Carlos Pena (19), Pat Burrell 3 (12), John Jaso (7), Reid Brignac (6)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Bartlett 2 (7), Pat Burrell 3 (10)|
|CS - Jason Bartlett (2, 2nd base by Sheets/Powell)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Wade Davis (W,2-1)||5||7||4||4||2||4||1||3.68|
|Randy Choate (H,2)||1.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||11.81|
|Grant Balfour (H,1)||1||3||1||1||0||2||0||2.61|
|Rafael Soriano (S,5)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.25|
|Pitches-Strikes - Wade Davis 95-58, Lance Cormier 22-15, Randy Choate 13-10, Grant Balfour 25-19, Rafael Soriano 13-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wade Davis 4-6, Randy Choate 3-0, Grant Balfour 1-0, Rafael Soriano 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Wade Davis 23, Lance Cormier 5, Randy Choate 4, Grant Balfour 6, Rafael Soriano 3|
|Attendance - 10825|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Everitt, First Base - Andy Fletcher, Second Base - Adrian Johnson, Third Base - Tim McClelland|