Jake Bauers belted a three-run home run off Oakland Athletics right-hander Jeurys Familia to break an eighth-inning tie and propel the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-5 win Saturday night in a battle of relievers at St. Petersburg, Fla.
The win allowed the Rays (81-66), who lost the series opener to Oakland 2-1 in 10 innings, to climb back within eight games of the A’s (90-59) for the second American League wild card.
The A’s had a chance to pick up ground on the New York Yankees (91-57) in the battle for the first AL wild card-spot, but failed to do so and remained 1 1/2 games behind. The Yankees lost earlier in the day to Toronto.
After the A’s had rallied twice from two-run deficits, the Rays took the lead for good in the eighth when Familia (4-2) sandwiched a strikeout between walks to Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe. Bauers then crushed his 11th home run of the season to right field to break a 4-4 tie and put Tampa Bay up by three.
Closer Sergio Romo, the Rays’ seventh pitcher and the game’s 14th, served up a solo home run to Matt Chapman, his 23rd, with one out in the ninth before wrapping up his 20th save of the season.
Right-hander Andrew Kittredge (2-2), who ended a controversial top of the eighth when he got Mark Canha to groundout with the bases loaded to preserve a 4-4 tie, was credited with the win.
A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Vanover in the eighth for arguing after Oakland’s Marcus Semien was called out on strikes on a 2-2 pitch with one out and the bases loaded.
Both short-inning starting pitchers did their job, with Oakland right-hander Liam Hendriks and Tampa Bay righty Ryne Stanek each allowing one hit in one scoreless inning.
The Rays led twice by two runs, first after Lowe hit a two-run home run in the second inning to open the scoring and later when Kevin Kiermaier tripled home Wendle to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Bauers.
The A’s got even at 2-2 in the sixth on a solo homer by Matt Olson, his 27th of the season, then rallied for two in the seventh on an RBI double by pinch hitter Canha and a passed ball on Nick Ciuffo.
Bauers finished with three hits and four RBIs for the Rays, who won for the 10th time in their last 13 games.
Chapman collected three hits, and Olson and Semien two each for the A’s, who out-hit the Rays 13-8.
Oakland lost for just the second time in its last nine games.
—Field Level Media