Tampa Bay Rays (54-59) at Oakland Athletics (69-43), 3:35 p.m. (ET)
08/05/2014 7:39 AM
08/06/2014 7:39 AM
(SportsNetwork.com) - Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray aims to rebound from a rare loss on Wednesday when the Athletics try to complete a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays at O.co Coliseum.
Gray was 5-0 in July with a 1.03 ERA, but lost his first start in August on Friday, despite a terrific effort against the Kansas City Royals that saw him allow just a run and three hits in seven innings. He also struck out seven without walking a batter, but fell to 12-4 on the year to go along with a 2.59 ERA.
Earlier in the week Gray was honored as the AL's Pitcher of the Month for July, making him the first A's pitcher to win it twice in a single season since Barry Zito did it in August and September of 2001.
"To win it once during a season is quite the achievement, twice even more so obviously," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Based on the numbers, not surprised. Certainly, congratulations to him."
Gray is 1-0 in two starts versus the Rays and has allowed one run in 14 2/3 innings of those outings.
Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jeremy Hellickson, who will be making his third start of the season after sitting out the first three-plus months of the season recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow.
Hellickson lost for the first time on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels, as he surrendered four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He had given up just a run in nine innings of his first two starts without getting a decision.
"I'm healthy, I feel strong, but you can't emulate coming out to a big league game," Hellickson said. "I haven't pitched well. I haven't really given (Joe Maddon) a reason to leave me out there. Obviously I'd like to get a chance to work out of my own jams and go deeper in the game."
Oakland stretched its lead atop the AL West on Tuesday, as Jason Hammel finally got off the schneid and picked up his first win in an A's uniform in a 3-0 victory.
Hammel (1-4), who lost each of his previous four starts with the Athletics since being acquired from the Cubs with Jeff Samardzija, held the Rays to seven hits and four walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
"I thought he mixed in his pitches a lot better today," Melvin said of Hammel. "He had to be really good."
Eight out of the nine Oakland players in the lineup registered a hit, with Coco Crisp, Nate Freiman and Josh Reddick recording an RBI for the division leaders, as it moved two games up on the Angels, who lost to the Dodgers.
Drew Smyly (6-10) made his Tampa Bay debut, allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts over 5 1/3 frames. Smyly was acquired by the Rays at the trade deadline in a deal that sent ace David Price to Detroit.
Tampa Bay is 1-4 since the deadline and has lost five of six overall.
"When you don't score points everything else is magnified," Maddon said.
Oakland took two of three from the Rays earlier in the year at the Trop.
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