Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Rays won his third game in four outings this season behind undeniably his best performance of the year. Kazmir went seven strong innings allowing four hits while fanning eight Oakland A's hitters.
Greg Smith was equally impressive as the Rays hitters are still struggling to score runs. After shutting out the Rays through seven innings, Greg Smith and the A's found themselves in and almost out of a big jam.
Jason Bartlett led off the eighth inning with a walk. Carl Crawford followed that up with a single to center moving Bartlett up to second base. With BJ Upton up and no one out, Jason Bartlett stole third base with Crawford moving up to second on the throw.
Oakland was in trouble.
Joey Devine was now in the game and finished off Upton with a strikeout for the first out of the inning. The A's intentionally walked Carlos Pena to load the bases with one out for Evan Longoria.
After fouling off several fastballs, Longoria could not check his swing on a nasty breaking ball by Devine. With two outs and two strikes on catcher Dioner Navarro, the A's were almost out of a huge jam.
On a 2-2 count though Navarro hit a sinking line drive that looked like it was going to hang up enough for Emil Brown to slide under and end the inning. Instead of catching it though the Brown seemed to lose the ball in the lights as it snuck under his glove and rolled to the fence for a bases clearing double.
It was a break that Rays fans are used to seeing go the other way. Maybe this is the year that we catch the much deserved breaks—breaks that allow the club to win games that they would have lost in the past seasons rather than losing games they should have won.
In any case, things are looking up for this young club.
Dan Wheeler came in and got the hold as Troy Percival got his 13th save while giving up just a solo HR to Frank Thomas.
The Rays won their second straight game in Oakland to ensure a series win and a road trip of at least .500 ball. That is also music to Tampa Bay fans as the road has been very dreary in years past.
The two teams meet on Wednesday for a matinee series finale with Andy Sonnanstine looking for his team leading seventh win. He will be dueling with young lefty Dana Eveland who is 3-3 for Oakland.
Jonny Gomes should be back in the lineup tonight against the lefty and will look to homer in front of family and friends as he is from close by town Petaluma.
Following Wednesday's game the Rays will head home for a three-team home stand with Baltimore, Texas, and the Chicago White Sox in which they will look to gain ground and pass up the AL East leading Boston Red Sox.