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Danny Valencia's three homers lead Oakland Athletic's past Tampa Bay Rays

By Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
Danny Valencia's three homers lead Oakland Athletic's past Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland A's 3B Danny Valencia. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Given the week that Steve Geltz and Danny Valencia have had, it was a predictable outcome.

Valencia, who already had four home runs this weekend and two Sunday, got a third home run with two outs in the ninth, giving the A's a comeback 7-6 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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Geltz, who gave up the deciding home run in Monday's loss and a walkoff home run in the 11th Wednesday, saw his first pitch Sunday leave the park in left field -- Oakland had been 0-20 when trailing after eight innings this season.

"It felt pretty good the whole series, really," said Valencia, the first A's hitter to get three home runs in a game since Josh Reddick in 2013. "I've never done that before, but it felt great and felt good to be on the winning side of it."

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Valencia had zero home runs entering the weekend series, but had five in the two Oakland wins on Friday and Sunday.

"Big impact in both games we won and a huge impact today," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said.

Brandon Guyer drove in five runs, including a pair of home runs, for the Rays, but Valencia had the most important swing.

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The Rays (16-19) led 6-5 entering the ninth and got the first two outs in the top of the inning. Billy Burns hit a two-out double to put the tying run in scoring position.

Geltz then relieved Xavier Cedeno, and Valencia hit a two-run homer to put the A's ahead.

"He just jumped on the first pitch and hit it out," Geltz said. "I have to make better pitches than that and be more competitive and help my team out. ... It is something I have experienced before, I remember not too long ago. It is the game of baseball. Time to move on and get them tomorrow."

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Geltz (0-2) took the loss and John Axford (3-1) got the win in relief. Ryan Madson pitched the bottom of the ninth to get his 10th save.

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"That might be one of the more difficult ones of the first part of the year here. Obviously a tough loss," manager Kevin Cash said. "It's a good thing that losses only count as one, because that can feel like it counted as three or four right there."

Oakland (16-22) heads home after a 3-6 road trip that leaves them 3-10 in May after entering the month 1 1/2 games out of first place.

Much of the offense came from two bats -- Guyer and Valencia. Guyer, who came into the game with six RBIs all season, brought in five runs in the first four innings, with a solo home run in the first, a three-run shot in the second and a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Valencia had his second multi-home run game in three days -- after two in Friday's win, he had a solo shot in the first inning Sunday and a two-run shot in the fifth, cutting a 5-2 Rays lead to 5-4.

Evan Longoria added a solo home run in the fifth for a 6-4 Tampa Bay lead.

A's starter Sonny Gray had allowed three home runs in a game just once in 81 previous starts, and that also came against the Rays last August.

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Trailing 5-1 in the fifth, Oakland got a single from Yonder Alonso, an RBI double from Coco Crisp and then Valencia's two-run home run.

Rays starter Matt Moore departed after five innings, having allowed seven hits and four earned runs but in line for the win.

Steven Pearce hustled for the Rays' fifth run in the fourth. He struck out to open the inning but reached first on a passed ball, then advanced to third on Kevin Kiermaier's double down the right-field line. Guyer's fly ball to shallow right field sent him home, and although the throw home beat him, he slid just inside the tag for the run.

Oakland again pulled within a run in the seventh on a solo home run off reliever Erasmo Ramirez by Chris Coghlan. It was a pinch-hit home run, the first for the A's since June 2014, a span of 285 games that had been the longest active streak in the majors. Crisp doubled and represented the tying run at third, but Ramirez struck out Burns to end the inning.

NOTES: The A's shifted Billy Burns to right field for the first time this season, with Coco Crisp in center, giving Josh Reddick a day off rather than play him on Tropicana Field's artificial turf. ... Oakland will face left-handers four games in a row, including the next three games against Texas, giving a chance for its versus-lefty lineup to get a run of consistent at-bats. ... The Rays recalled utility man Taylor Motter from Triple-A Durham, putting him in position to make his major league debut. The versatile Motter, the team MVP at Durham last season, will most likely help the Rays at second base while Logan Forsythe misses a month with a hairline fracture in his shoulder but could also help across the infield and in the outfield as well.

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