ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Ramon Laureano helped the Oakland Athletics end a long stay away from home in grand fashion.
Laureano hit his first career grand slam to break an eighth-inning tie and finished with five RBIs and the Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Wednesday.
“I was just trying to put the ball in the air and at least get one run but I got four,” Laureano said. “I just saw the umpire (signal) home run, and then I’m like ‘it’s cool.’”
Oakland went 6-4, including taking two of three from the Rays, on a season-long 10-game road trip that included some significant travel issues.
The Athletics didn’t arrive in Florida until after 3 a.m. Monday. They spent 3½ hours in the clubhouse following their game at the Texas Rangers on Sunday because of storm-related damage to their plane.
“It kind of shows you what these guys are made of,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They really do just play for the day. You add them all up at the end of this trip, it was an excellent trip.”
Yandy Diaz and Tommy Pham both had three hits for the Rays, who are 18-16 at home and dropped one-half game behind the idle AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Matt Olson started the decisive eighth with a single off Adam Kolarek (2-2). Chaz Roe entered and after striking out Khris Davis, the right-hander walked Stephen Piscotty and then intentionally walked Robbie Grossman after a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third.
Laureano made it 6-2 by sending a 2-2 pitch from Colin Poche into the left-field stands.
Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a two-out infield single by Laureano. He also stole two bases.
“There’s some different facets to his game,” Melvin said.
Athletics starter Brett Anderson left in the seventh with two on and one out and the Athletics up 2-0.
Tampa Bay tied it at 2 when Diaz greeted Liam Hendriks (3-0) with an RBI double and Avisail Garcia added a run-scoring infield single.
Anderson was charged with two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Olson homered for the second consecutive game, a solo shot off Yonny Chirinos in the sixth that put Oakland ahead 2-0.
“I thought he was really good, made some big pitches,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We just came up short with the bats, but Yonny did his part for sure.”
Olson’s previous at-bat played a role in Melvin being ejected by plate umpire Sean Barber for arguing balls and strikes.
Melvin was tossed while Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows was batting in the third, which came after Olson expressed his displeasure with Barber about an inning-ending called third strike with two on in the top of the inning.
Chirinos, coming off eight shutout innings at Boston on Friday, allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Working as a starter in his past four appearances and not entering following an opener, the right-hander has given up six runs over 24 1/3 innings.
“The results didn’t come out like we wanted,” Chirinos said through a translator. “We didn’t win.”
Athletics: C Chris Herrmann (right knee surgery) will start a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rays: Meadows started after fouling a ball hard off his lower right leg Tuesday night in the eighth inning.
Oakland pitching prospects A.J. Puk (Tommy John surgery) and Jesus Luzardo (shoulder) made their season debuts with Class A Stockton Tuesday night. Puk allowed one run, one hit and struck out four in two innings, while Luzardo gave up two hits over three scoreless innings. “Puk’s first four pitches were 99 (mph),” Melvin said. “Luzardo was up to 97 (mph). So, everybody was pretty happy about the way things went.”
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt (3-2) will start the opener of a season-long 10-game homestand Friday night against Seattle.
Rays: LHP Ryan Yarbrough (5-2) will likely get the bulk of the innings as a starter or following an opener Thursday night against Los Angeles Angels LHP Tyler Skaggs (4-6).