ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- So far Mallex Smith has proved to be everything the Tampa Bay Rays hoped he would be and more with his ability to get on base.
Smith went 3-for-3 and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Corey Dickerson to lift the Rays to a 5-4 win against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Smith, who was called up from Triple-A Durham on Friday to replace injured center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, reached first on a bunt single in the seventh inning, and Athletics reliever Daniel Coulombe made a throwing error that allowed Smith to wind up on third.
The next batter, Dickerson, hit the first pitch from Coulombe into right field, and Smith easily tagged up and scored to give the Rays a 5-4 lead.
"Like I've said before, this team was rolling before I got here," Smith said. "I have just tried to add on and play my game."
The Athletics loaded the bases against Rays closer Alex Colome with one out in the top of the ninth inning, but Jed Lowrie fouled out to third base and Khris Davis struck out on three pitches to end the game.
Chase Whitley (2-1) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the win for the Rays (34-32), who had won five of their past six games. Colome picked up his 18th save.
Coulombe (0-1) gave up one run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning in the loss.
"(Losing close games) has been frustrating," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "Granted, a lot of fight. Certainly in the ninth inning as well. A few more at bats and two games could've swung the other way. Obviously the first game we didn't really have much of a chance, but yesterday and today we certainly had a chance to win."
Oakland (27-36) was able to get some early runs against Rays starter Chris Archer. Stephen Vogt had a two-run single in the top of the second inning that scored Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healy. Vogt struck again in the top of the fourth with a double off Archer that scored Alonso and gave the Athletics a 3-0 lead.
The Rays rallied in the fifth as Smith had an RBI double off Athletics starter Jesse Hahn to score Daniel Robertson and make the score 3-1. Dickerson and Evan Longoria would follow with RBI hits to make the score 3-3.
"That inning, whenever the back of the order got a hit, it just got something going," Dickerson said. "It got some energy in the dugout and we just kept going with the consistent at bats."
The Athletics took a 4-3 in the sixth after Lowrie hit a triple and scored on a single by Davis.
Tampa Bay responded in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run by Colby Rasmus, his ninth of the season.
Archer gave up four runs on seven hits in six-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked three on 114 pitches (75 strikes).
"I think Chase Whitley, our whole bullpen in general, did a great job of locking the game down," Archer said. (The comeback) was nice. I said this a couple of weeks ago but I like our lineup. I think we're going to get a couple pieces here soon that's really going to help us. I think we're a good team."
Hahn gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out five and threw 93 pitches, 59 strikes.
"It's tough, I got two quick outs (in the fifth inning) and I have to do a better job of minimizing the damage there," Hahn said. "Even after giving up the first two hits, I need to do something there to get the next out. So it's really frustrating."
NOTES: The Rays optioned RHP Ryan Stanek to Triple-A Durham and activated RHP Jumbo Diaz (right arm fatigue) from the 10-day DL. Diaz pitched a scoreless eighth inning. ...Athletics OF Matt Joyce appeared to injure his shoulder in the seventh inning trying to beat Rays SS Tim Beckham to second base, but he remained in the game. ...Rays RHP Matt Andriese was scheduled to have an MRI exam Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with a right groin strain.