OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) It took two months of scrambling and three big swings from the heart of their lineup to finally get the Tampa Bay Rays back above .500 after an awful 1-8 start.
Now the challenge for Kevin Cash's ballclub is to stay there.
C.J. Cron, Joey Wendle and Wilson Ramos hit consecutive home runs in the third inning and the Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 on Tuesday night.
''We've been battling,'' Cron said. ''It was a pretty rough start so there was a lot of work to do. Yesterday it felt good to finally get there and then today to finally take that step . we're playing well right now and hopefully we can just continue winning ballgames, winning series.''
The Rays had been in a power slump with only two homers in their previous six games, both coming Sunday in a win over Baltimore. They quickly topped against Daniel Gossett (0-3) in the third.
After Gossett struck out the first two batters, Cron hit his 12th home run to left on a 1-1 pitch. Wendle, who spent the past two seasons in Oakland, connected on the sixth pitch for his second homer. Ramos hit his seventh home run three pitches later.
It's the fourth time in franchise history that the Rays have hit three consecutive home runs and the first since Sept. 21, 2016.
''Really impressive, especially that it came with two outs,'' Cash said. ''The guys had a lot of fun with it. Exciting. It energized the dugout.''
Daniel Robertson later homered for the Rays, Matt Duffy added three hits and Blake Snell struck out seven over 5 2/3 innings for his third straight victory.
Jed Lowrie had two hits and an RBI for Oakland. The A's have scored four runs or fewer in their last 13 home games.
''We're not swinging the bats great, but then we rallied at the end and had some really good at-bats,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ''I was encouraged by what I saw at the end.''
One day after six pitchers combined for Tampa Bay's first shutout of the season, the Rays got another strong outing from their starter and bullpen.
Snell (7-3) gave up two hits and an unearned run. The left-hander overcame two errors behind him and allowed only two runners past second base.
Jonny Venters, Jaime Schultz, Chaz Roe and Sergio Romo completed the five-hitter.
Schultz struck out the side in the seventh on 14 pitches in his major league debut. Romo allowed two runs in the ninth but got Marcus Semien to ground out for his first American League save.
''We didn't have any bullpen today,'' Cash said. ''The guys you saw pitch were up. We didn't want to blow through any of the length that we might need tomorrow. It worked out.''
A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE
Carlos Gomez got a helping hand from A's fan Matt Welch, who was sitting in the stands near Tampa Bay's bullpen and let the Rays right fielder borrow a pair of sunglasses to battle a tough glare in the first inning. Gomez returned the favor a few moments later after chasing down Lowrie's foul ball when he gave the fan his glasses back, along with the ball.
''He needed glasses for the sun which gets bad here around game time and I offered mine to him,'' Welch told MLB.com. ''He asked another fan if he could use his, but they were normal sunglasses. Mine are more sporty ... so I asked if he wanted to use them. He made two plays with them and gave them back along with the ball he caught for the last out.''
Schultz's celebration was short-lived. He was optioned down to Triple-A Durham after the game to make room for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who is starting on Wednesday. The Rays also transferred right-hander Jake Faria to the 60-day disabled list.
Rays: Brad Miller was back in the leadoff spot of manager Kevin Cash's lineup after hitting a ball that ricocheted off a protective screen and hit the first baseman near his left eye, opening a small cut during batting practice Monday.
Athletics: Designated hitter Khris Davis (strained right groin) will come off the disabled list when he becomes eligible Thursday, Melvin confirmed. Melvin also said that RHP Paul Blackburn's rehab stint will begin Thursday with Single-A Stockton.
Eovaldi (0-0, 0.00 ERA) returns to the majors Wednesday after undergoing a second Tommy John surgery and will make his first start since Aug. 10, 2016. Sean Manaea (5-5, 3.34 ERA) pitches for Oakland. The left-hander has yielded four or more runs in each of his previous five starts.
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