Lucky break lifts Rays past AthleticsMay 21, 2008 - 6:14 AM By Al Barba PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
OAKLAND, California (Ticker) - In a pitcher's duel between two of the top young lefthanders in the American League, it was a lost ball in the lights that decided Tuesday night's game between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, Dioner Navarro hit a line drive to left field that left fielder Emil Brown appeared to lose in the lights, allowing three runs to score and providing the margin of victory as the Rays posted a 3-2 victory over the Athletics.
The lost ball by Brown overshadowed a solid pitching effort by Oakland starter Greg Smith (2-4). Smith entered the game with three losses and a no-decision in his previous four outings.
The lefthander was opposed by Scott Kazmir (3-1), who allowed one run and four hits while walking one and striking out a season-high eight in seven innings,
"Everything felt strong. It felt like I was able to stay close a little and actually just let it go," Kazmir said. "I felt like I had my legs under me and everything. I feel like I am still progressing. I felt good with a lot of the pitches I was throwing. I was mixing both sides of the plate and I had my fastball."
After retiring 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, Kazmir allowed the game's first run on a two-out RBI single to right field by Rajai Davis in the fifth inning. The Rays' lefthander issued a one-out walk to Jack Cust and Gregorio Petit reached on a bloop single just inside the line in shallow right field that put runners at first and third.
"That was as good as we've seen (Kazmir) obviously this year and that's as good as he was last year," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He had great stuff and great command of his stuff. He was terrific."
Neither team was able mount a threat against the opposing pitcher until the eighth inning.
Smith opened the eighth by walking Jason Bartlett and surrendering a bloop single to center field to Carl Crawford.
Joey Devine relieved Smith and, after the two runners advanced to second and third on a stolen base and error, the Oakland reliever turned in some impressive relief work. Devine struck out B.J. Upton, intentionally walked Carlos Pena to load the bases and fanned Evan Longoria for the second out of the inning.
Navarro followed and hit a line drive to left field that appeared would be the final out of the inning. However, Brown lost the ball in the lights, allowing three unearned runs score and making a loser out of Smith.
"I don't like to make excuses or anything like that," Brown said. "I tried my best to stay in there as much as I could. I would have even taken one off the face if I could have found a way to see it. I just couldn't. I was more upset than anything because those guys pitched out of the situation."
For Navarro, his goal in that situation was to just put the ball in play.
"The guys that were in there were just pitching their butts off and they made good pitches," Navarro said. "I was trying to put the ball in play and making something happen. I don't know if he lost the ball in the lights or not. The most important thing for us is we win the game and that is a plus for us."
Smith (2-4) pitched seven-plus innings, allowing two runs and five hits while walking four and striking out four.
"It was a good pitchers' game, good defense. It's tough to swallow. It stings a little bit," Smith said. "The good thing about this team is we don't quit playing. We're going to come back tomorrow with the same intensity and same competitiveness and same camaraderie and hopefully get one tomorrow."
Frank Thomas got Oakland within a run in the bottom of the ninth as he hit a leadoff home run to left field against Rays' closer Troy Percival. But the Tampa reliever went on to limit the damage as he struck two batters in the inning to record his 13th save of the season.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 6 0
OAKLAND 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 6 3 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: TAM - SCOTT KAZMIR, DAN WHEELER (8TH), TROY PERCIVAL (9TH) AND
OAK - GREG SMITH, JOEY DEVINE (8TH), DALLAS BRADEN
(9TH) AND KURT SUZUKI
May 21 12:48 AM
AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY FRANK THOMAS (6) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
9TH OFF TROY PERCIVAL.
CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3, OAKLAND 2
DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: E BROWN (.256, 0-FOR-3)
Rays 3, Athletics 2 Bot 9, 0 OutsMay 21 12:35 AM
AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
ERROR BY EMIL BROWN ALLOWED JASON BARTLETT, CARL CRAWFORD
AND CARLOS PENA TO SCORE.
SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, D NAVARRO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3
OAKLAND 1 TOP, 8TH
DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J GOMES (.218, 1-FOR-3)
Rays 3, Athletics 1 Top 8, 0 OutsMay 21 12:11 AM
AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY RAJAI DAVIS SCORED JACK CUST.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R DAVIS ON FIRST, G PETIT ON SECOND, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0
OAKLAND 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: J HANNAHAN (.226, 0-FOR-2)
Rays 0, Athletics 1 Bot 5, 0 OutsMay 20 11:20 PM
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