St. Petersburg - Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon sees a lot of similarities between his team and the Oakland Athletics.
Jonny Gomes' two-run home run in the eighth inning lifted the Athletics to a 5-4 victory over the Rays on Friday night.
"It really was frustrating," Maddon said. "That's a game we normally win. I've got to give Oakland a lot of credit. Oakland is really playing well. There's no quit in that group. It's very similar to our group of players, too." They're no fluke. You've got to bring your `A' game to beat them."
The Rays, who lead Oakland and Baltimore by 1 1/2 games for the top AL wild-card spot, trail the AL East-leading New York Yankees by 3 1/2 games.
Gomes' homer off Joel Peralta (1-6) broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Rays to their second loss in eight games. The Tampa Bay reliever has given up eight homers in 53 2/3 innings this season.
"Felt great about Joel being in that situation," Maddon said. "It just didn't want to work out. It's unfortunate."
Ryan Cook (6-2) earned the win in relief for the A's, who have won seven of nine.
Luke Scott's pinch-hit double got a run back for the Rays in the ninth before Grant Balfour finished for his 13th save.
Ben Zobrist's 15th home run opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, but Yoenis Cespedes' triple keyed a two-run fourth inning for Oakland. The inning ended when Josh Donaldson was caught trying to steal home with the bases loaded.
The Rays also failed to convert a bases-loaded situation. Leading 3-2 in the sixth, they had runners on first and second with two out when Ryan Roberts drove a single up the middle. But Evan Longoria stopped at third base, and Jarrod Parker struck out Jose Molina to end the threat.
The Rays have been taking a cautious approach with Longoria, who returned Aug. 7 after missing 85 games due to a partially torn left hamstring.
"What happened there, I believe, there was kind of like miscommunication based on the new `Longo Rules,"' Maddon said. "Having to score from second base. It's a play that he may have been able to score. It was the first time we were really tested in that moment and it did not work out in our favor.
"I think (third base coach) Tom (Foley) wanted to send him, and then way he handled it verbally with Longo was a little confusing I think to Longo," Maddon added. "So Longo could have gone but choose not to. I think what Foles was trying to do is not have him run too hard in order not to hurt himself and I think it was misunderstood on Longo's side. He did not go."
Gomes, who played for the Rays from 2003-2008, has hit safely in all eight of his games against his former team with three homers in 26 at-bats. It was his 15th home run of the season.
"I've always had a lot of respect for Jon Gomes," Maddon said. "He's a good baseball player. The guy cares. Jon came out on top tonight."
Parker pitched six innings for the A's, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out seven.
Rays starter Matt Moore struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs and seven hits.
"I didn't use my changeup as much as I had been," Moore said. "It was more breaking ball and fastball. They're a good hitting team. It was a little bit tougher to keep them off balance, so I went to breaking ball a little bit more."
NOTES: The three-game series will conclude Saturday afternoon because Tropicana Field will be used as a venue for the Republican National Convention. ... Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (8-8) is scheduled to face Oakland RHP Brandon McCarthy (7-4) on Saturday. ... The Rays past five losses have all been by one run.
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