Crisp sparks offense in A’s victory

Oakland, CA – There’s a reason why he’s the leadoff hitter. He provides a spark for the A’s when in the lineup and tonight he is one home run shy from his season high, sixteen.

Coco Crisp sparked the offense in Oakland’s 2-1 win over the Rays. Crisp singled in the A’s first run in the sixth when he scored in Stephen Vogt. Then in eighth he went deep to left field for the insurance run and gave Oakland a 2-0 lead.

“It’s always nice to be able to get a win like this,” Coco said. “Obviously an amazing pitcher pitching today, any runs we can scrap up against him we’re grateful for and lucky it was enough today.”

Vogt went hitless in 27 plates appearances with Tampa Bay in 2012. Batting against his former team for the first time, Stephen leadoff the inning with a triple off the wall that center-fielder Will Myers misjudged, that setup Coco’s single.

The A’s backed a stellar outing from rookie Sonny Gray who tossed 6 2/3 frames against Alex Cobb who was just as spectacular. A pitchers duel lasted through five innings until Oakland scored in the sixth.

“I had a feeling pretty early on that both guys were going to be pitching well and runs were going to be tough to come by, and that was the case,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin.

Gray yielded five hits, one walk, and struck out seven. Both of his wins have come at home where he’s allowed just two earned runs. He was replaced by Sean Doolittle in the seventh and walked off the mound to a standing ovation.

In the fourth the righty allowed a runner to reach scoring position for the third straight inning but no one ever reached home plate to score. Tampa struggled on offense leaving runners in scoring position in several innings.

“The fans are great here,” Sonny said. “I love pitching at home. I think in the fourth inning I had two men on and you could tell that everyone really gets behind you and helps you get that last hitter. It’s nice to get that little kick.”

Doolittle got himself in a jam after throwing a wild pitch and issued a free pass to Jose Lobaton. But managed to force Desmond Jennings to flyout to center field to end the threat. The Rays again left runners in scoring position and failed to score any runs until the ninth.

Closer Grant Balfour won his 35th save but fought an uphill battle to get that. He gave up a double to Myers, walked James Loney and Jennings knocked in Tampa’s only run when he singled up the middle.

The next batter grounded to Balfour who took off to first base for the out and the win. Oakland is now two games behind the Rangers in the AL West. But lead the Rays 1 1/2 games in the Wild Card race.

The A’s extended their streak of consecutive winning months after finishing August 14-13 dating back to June which was the fourth longest streak in Oakland history.

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