Tampa Bay at Oakland

Tampa Bay
W: J. Hellickson (1-1) L: S. Gray (12-5)
HR: TB - K. Kiermaier (9)   OAK - E. Sogard (1)

Rays break loose, avoid sweep in Oakland

AP Baseball Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Jeremy Hellickson has been waiting nearly a year to find his rhythm on the mound again.

Seven months after elbow surgery, he delivered on a day Tampa Bay needed a nice lift.

Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer to help Hellickson end a six-start winless stretch for his first victory in 11 months, and the Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 Wednesday to avoid a sweep.

Hellickson's fastball hit the mark and he complemented that with an effective changeup.

A bit of relief?

''Absolutely. It's been a long time since I've felt good after a start,'' Hellickson said. ''I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. It's one game, but I felt good and hopefully I can do it again in five days.''

Hellickson (1-1) allowed two hits and one run in seven innings, struck out three and walked none. He hadn't reached five innings in any of his previous three starts this year or in five outings dating to the end of the 2013 season. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year returned late last month following rehab for the January elbow operation.

The Rays handed reigning AL Pitcher of the Month Sonny Gray (12-5) his second straight defeat following a 5-0 July in which he had a 1.03 ERA. This is the second time Gray has lost consecutive outings in his first full major league season, also to Baltimore and the Yankees on June 7 and 13.

Kiermaier's first-pitch homer in the fourth was just the ninth surrendered this year by Gray, who came into Wednesday with a 1-0 record and 0.61 ERA in two career starts against the Rays.

Hellickson retired the first nine A's hitters in order before Coco Crisp's leadoff single in the fourth, then the right-hander recorded seven more outs in a row.

''That looked like the Rookie of the Year Hellickson,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''My thought is now that he's done it once he can really take off.''

Eric Sogard broke that up with a sixth-inning homer, snapping a career-high 110-game homerless streak dating to July 21, 2013. Josh Reddick added a two-run double in the ninth off former A's closer Grant Balfour.

Gray plunked Kiermaier in the fifth to load the bases and Desmond Jennings followed with a two-run single to chase the right-hander after a season-low 4 1-3 innings. Jesse Chavez, moved to the bullpen after last week's Jon Lester trade, worked 3 2-3 innings.

''When you put your team in a hole like that, you're putting a lot of pressure on the offense,'' Gray said. ''That's tough to climb out of.''

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' The Rays improved to 4-13 in California since sweeping the Angels in a four-game series at Anaheim last season.

The Rays took advantage of opportunities after going 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series.

''It's just one of those things where we had a rough stretch there, really struggling with guys in scoring position, and today we took advantage of it and a couple hard hits went our way,'' Kiermaier said.


Rays: Catcher Jose Molina took a foul tip on his right arm in the third but stayed in the game. ... Outfielder Wil Myers, on the 60-day disabled list with a broken right wrist, was scheduled to report to Triple-A Durham to continue rehab work and baseball activities. He could begin playing in minor league games by the weekend.

Athletics: Manager Bob Melvin expects shortstop Jed Lowrie back from a bruised right index finger for Thursday's series opener with the Twins.


Rays: After an off-day in Chicago, RHP Chris Archer (7-6, 3.42 ERA) pitches Friday's opener of a weekend series at Wrigley Field to close out interleague play.

Athletics: LHP Lester (11-7, 2.59) makes his second start since being traded to the A's from the Red Sox last Thursday. He is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA over nine starts since a June 7 loss at Detroit.


The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority approved the Athletics' 10-year lease deal that keeps the club in Oakland for now - a formality in the deal reached last month.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

K. Kiermaier
AB 4
R 2
H 1
HR 1
Tampa Bay

J. Hellickson
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 1
BB 0
K 3

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2017 AL East Preview: Tampa Bay Rays (2:33)
Tampa Bay Rays
Desmond Jennings, CF5012012.241.325.377
Ben Zobrist, LF4131100.278.363.426
Matt Joyce, DH4000113.276.362.416
Evan Longoria, 3B4011122.256.333.398
James Loney, 1B4020103.292.347.381
Yunel Escobar, SS5220004.258.328.335
Cole Figueroa, 2B5110004.216.262.243
Jose Molina, C3120112.194.250.206
Kevin Kiermaier, RF4213023.288.341.517
Jeremy Hellickson, P0000000.000.000.000
   Joel Peralta, P0000000.000.000.000
   Grant Balfour, P0000000.000.000.000
2B - Ben Zobrist 2 (24, Gray)
HR - Kevin Kiermaier (9, Gray)
SH - Jose Molina (4)
RBI - Desmond Jennings 2 (32), Ben Zobrist (33), Evan Longoria (58), Kevin Kiermaier 3 (28)
2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria (26)
Team LOB - 11
Tampa Bay Rays
Jeremy Hellickson (W,1-1) 7211031 2.61
Joel Peralta 1000010 3.68
Grant Balfour 1222110 5.23
HBP - Jaso (by Jeremy Hellickson)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Hellickson 99-62, Joel Peralta 20-13, Grant Balfour 23-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Hellickson 4-14, Grant Balfour 1-1
Batters Faced - Jeremy Hellickson 24, Joel Peralta 3, Grant Balfour 6
Oakland Athletics
Coco Crisp, CF4010010.272.372.410
John Jaso, C3000001.269.347.440
Josh Donaldson, 3B4110022.244.331.456
Brandon Moss, 1B3100111.249.331.483
Josh Reddick, RF4012000.263.315.440
Alberto Callaspo, 2B4000001.232.301.300
Stephen Vogt, DH3000000.315.345.476
Sam Fuld, LF3000000.258.348.355
Eric Sogard, SS3111010.207.286.261
Sonny Gray, P0000000.000.000.000
   Jesse Chavez, P0000000.000.000.000
   Fernando Abad, P0000000.000.000.000
2B - Josh Reddick (9, Balfour)
HR - Eric Sogard (1, Hellickson)
RBI - Josh Reddick 2 (34), Eric Sogard (12)
2-OUT RBI - Josh Reddick 2 (14)
Team LOB - 3
Outfield Assists - Sam Fuld 1
DP - Donaldson-Sogard-Moss
E - Eric Sogard (3, Missed catch of throw)
Oakland Athletics
Sonny Gray (L,12-5) 4.11076431 2.87
Jesse Chavez 3.2200030 3.31
Fernando Abad 1100110 1.79
HBP - Kiermaier (by Sonny Gray)
Pitches-Strikes - Sonny Gray 90-50, Jesse Chavez 46-29, Fernando Abad 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sonny Gray 5-5, Jesse Chavez 3-4, Fernando Abad 1-1
Batters Faced - Sonny Gray 28, Jesse Chavez 12, Fernando Abad 5
Game Information
Attendance - 21513
Game Time - 3:10
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - John Tumpane, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Quinn Wolcott