Rays 4, Athletics 0

July 21, 2008 7:49:50 PM PDT
Scott Kazmir and two relievers combined on a two-hitter in the left-hander's first start since winning the All-Star game, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the struggling Oakland Athletics 4-0 on Monday night.

Rookie Evan Longoria homered for the third consecutive game and drove in two runs, helping the AL East leaders win for the third time in four days following a season-worst seven-game losing streak that briefly dropped them out of first place.

The A's have lost six in a row for their longest skid since they dropped nine straight from July 6-17, 2007. They've been held nine runs during the slide.

Kazmir pitched a scoreless 15th inning on one day's rest to get the win in last Tuesday's All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. The Rays gave him an extra day to get ready for his first start since July 13, and the left-hander responded with his longest outing since he went 8 innings to beat Texas on June 6.

The A's were limited to Ryan Sweeney's one-out single in the first and Jack Cust's two-out single in the fourth, as well as four walks over Kazmir's seven innings. The Rays ace struck out nine before being replaced by Grant Balfour.

J.P. Howell pitched a perfect ninth, finishing Tampa Bay's ninth shutout of the season before a crowd of just 12,428. The weak-hitting A's have been blanked nine times, second-most in the AL.

Longoria had two hits off Dana Eveland (7-7), an RBI single in the third and his 19th homer in the fifth. Willy Aybar also hit a solo homer off the Oakland starter, who allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings.

Kazmir threw 104 pitches in six innings during his last start before the All-Star break, and the Rays had hoped he wouldn't be called on to pitch for the AL in New York.

The 24-year-old lefty said he felt fine after throwing 14 pitches and becoming the seventh-youngest pitcher to win an All-Star game, however the team didn't want to take any unnecessary chances and pushed his first post-break start back an additional day.

Eveland pitched a 3-hitter for his first career complete game against Tampa Bay on May 21, but wasn't nearly as effective this time. The left-hander gave up Longoria's RBI single, Aybar's homer and Akinori Iwamura's run-scoring single in the fourth to fall behind 3-0.

Longoria's homer made it 4-0. And the way Oakland has been hitting lately, that was a lot to expect the A's to overcome.

Falling to 0-4 on a six-game road trip that began with a weekend sweep at Yankee Stadium, the A's have now scored one or fewer runs in four of their last six games and 28 times overall -- four more than their total for all of last season.

Notes:@ The homers allowed by Eveland were only the fifth and sixth the left-hander's allowed in 118 1-3 innings. ... The Rays are 11-for-85 with runners in scoring position over their last 11 games, including 3-for-11 Monday night. ... A's DH Frank Thomas, on the 15-day disabled list since May 29 because of right quadriceps tendinitis, took batting practice and has been cleared to start a running program on Friday. ... Rays SS Jason Bartlett, sidelined since July 3 with a right knee sprain, ran the bases during pregame drills, and may be activated during Tampa Bay's upcoming road trip to Kansas City and Toronto.


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