Billy Butler's blast helps Oakland Athletics take series from Tampa Bay Rays

By Eric Gilmore, The Sports Xchange  |  July 25, 2016 at 12:53 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- After back-to-back walk-off wins against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Oakland Athletics didn't wait until the final inning for a hero to step up Sunday.

Billy Butler hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Oakland held on for a 3-2 victory against Tampa Bay at the Oakland Coliseum.

The A's won their third consecutive series since the All-Star break, beating Tampa Bay three straight times after dropping the series opener to go 7-3 on their homestand.

"Winning's definitely contagious," Butler said. "I feel like when you come from behind or make surges late, once you do them you have confidence as a team that you're going to do it."

With one out in the eighth, Butler sent an 0-1 pitch by reliever Erasmo Ramirez (7-8) over the fence in right-center for his third home run of the season and first since June 7 at Milwaukee. Butler went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

"He got a good piece of the pitch, and it was a good pitch," Ramirez said. "It was high on the outside corner but still he was able to put a good swing on it. I thought it would be a double because it was a line drive

"But it wasn't there for me today. It was sad because we need to win, but now we just have to continue fighting."

A's right-hander Ryan Madson pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two, for his 21st save.

Oakland's Jake Smolinski went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and a run.

The A's scored twice in the first inning and led 2-0 through seven innings, but Tampa Bay pulled even in the eighth when Logan Forsythe hit a two-run homer with two outs off A's reliever Ryan Dull (4-2). It was Forsythe's ninth homer of the season.

"Logan came up and got a big hit off a really good pitcher, who's having a good season, and we go back and unfortunately give it right back with a home run," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Home runs have us up a lot this year."

Right-hander Jesse Hahn, who was recalled Sunday from Triple-A Nashville, allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings and got a no-decision in his first start for the A's since June 8.

"I just feel great right now," Hahn said. "I've been working on a lot of things in Nashville. Kind of trying to get back to where I was last year. I think they're all starting to come together. I'm kind of getting in that rhythm, getting in that groove now."

Rays rookie left-hander Blake Snell allowed two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.

The A's scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Smolinski extended his hitting streak to a career high-tying seven games with a one-out double down the left-field line. Smolinski moved to third on Danny Valencia's sharp single to right and scored on Khris Davis' double to left-center.

Butler lined an RBI single to right, driving in Valencia.

NOTES: A's RF Josh Reddick (sore back) was out of the lineup for the second straight game, though he appeared as a defensive replacement. Oakland CF Coco Crisp (sore neck) was a late scratch. ... The A's optioned INF/OF Arismendy Alcantara to Triple-A Nashville to open a 25-man roster spot for RHP Jesse Hahn. ... A's LHP Rich Hill (blister, left middle finger) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session but had a protective wrap on his blister. There is still no target date for his next start. ... Rays 1B Logan Morrison (right forearm tendinitis) was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game. Morrison likely return to the lineup Tuesday against the Dodgers after an off day Monday. ... Rays OF Oswaldo Arcia, who came out of Saturday's game with a mild right elbow strain, started at designated hitter Sunday and went 0-for-3. ... Rays RHP Brad Boxberger (left oblique strain) will make rehab appearances for Class A Charlotte and Tuesday and Wednesday.

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