ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sean Murphy homered, Sean Manaea got some key defensive help and the Oakland Athletics rebounded a day after their 13-game winning streak ended, edging the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Monday night.
After Matt Chapman drew a two-out walk from Rich Hill (1-1) in the fourth inning, Murphy made it 2-1 with a drive to left field.
Murphy said he wasn't sure the drive measured at 367 feet would reach the seats,.
“I hit well it but hit it pretty high,” Murphy said. “Obviously close. Glad it did."
Manaea (3-1) threw 100 pitches over five innings, giving up one run and four hits.
With two on and two out in the third, right fielder Stephen Piscotty made a diving grab on a flare by Manuel Margot. Kemp, the left fielder, made a sliding catch on the centre field warning track to take away a potential RBI hit by Willy Adames in the fourth.
“That's how you win games like that, close games where you get good pitching at both ends," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Murphy, the catcher, a also made a nifty play fielding Margot’s bunt in the sixth and throwing him out at first.
The Athletics have allowed two runs or fewer in eight of the last 10 games, allowing 21 earned runs in 86 innings during the stretch.
Yusmeiro Petit went two perfect innings, Jake Diekman worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth and Lou Trivino closed for his third save.
Oakland, which lost 8-1 at Baltimore on Sunday, is 15-2 over the last 17 games after starting the year 0-6.
“They’ve been playing like the best team in baseball, certainly the hottest," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I know they got off to a rough start. Kind of head scratching because you know they are such a talented group, talented group of pitching, talented group of position players. But I’d say they made up for it and then some with this most recent streak.”
Hill struck out 10 in six innings, allowing only two hits.
The Rays are 5-1 against the Yankees this, compared to 6-11 against all other opponents. Tampa Bay has lost six of its last seven home games
Austin Meadows put the Rays up 1-0 on a first-inning sacrifice fly after Randy Arozarena stole third with one out.
Melvin was ejected in the seventh after an out call on a sliding Elvis Andrus at the plate was upheld by video review. He was thrown out by Adames at shortstop after Tony Kemp’s popup to the edge of the outfield dropped between three defenders.
““It was a terrible call," Melvin said, "Enough said there,:”
Yandy Díaz, who had a leadoff homer against Manaea five pitches into the 2019 AL wild-card game, hit a hard one-hopper that struck the left-hander's right lower leg in the first.
The announced crowd of 2,981 was around 7,000 below the COVID-19 capacity limit.
Melvin said Tropicana Field is a unique place to play with its overhanging catwalks and roof.
“At times it feels like you’re playing in a pinball machine with all the rings and the ground rules, and you try not to get too caught up in that,” Melvin said. “Depending whether the sun’s out, the roof colour changes. There’s just a lot of stuff that goes on here maybe not in other parks.”
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
Kemp dove over the low wall down the left field line and just missed making a full extension catch on Brandon Lowe’s foul fly in the second. … Mark Canha tied Sal Bando’s Oakland record of 59 when he was hit by a pitch from Hill in the third.
Athletics: RHP Mike Fiers (lumbar strain) was reinstated from the 10-day IL and will work out of the bullpen.
Rays: 1B Ji-Man Choi (right knee) will join Triple-A Durham next week to get around 30 at-bats.
Athletics RHP Frankie Montas (2-1) and Rays RHP Michael Wacha (1-1) are Tuesday night’s starters.
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