ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Oakland's success against Tampa Bay
is gaining importance.
Lilly (9-9) allowed one run and four hits, struck out seven and
walked two, improving to 4-0 against the Devil Rays.
"He's really stepped up," Ellis said. "We all know he's got
great stuff. It's just a matter of putting it together and he
really did that tonight. Playing behind him, he makes hitters look
really stupid sometimes. That's a sign of having really good
Lilly was won three straight starts following a stretch during
which he won just once in nine outings.
"I haven't really done the things that I'd like to," he said,
"but more importantly, we're in first place and we've got a good
chance to win the division and get into the playoffs. I look
forward to being able to contribute from here on out."
The AL West-leading Athletics remained two games ahead of
Oakland swept a three-game series from the Devil Rays at home
last weekend. Tampa Bay took four of six from the Mariners over the
past 11 days.
"I respect this team here," Oakland manager Ken Macha said of
the Devil Rays. "These guys play hard. The next two days, we've
got our work cut out for us. We've got to play good baseball."
The Athletics have won six of seven from the Devil Rays this
season, increasing their record against Tampa Bay to 42-13.
"We just got beat," the Devil Rays' Aubrey Huff said.
"Certain teams just have your number."
Julio Lugo homered for Tampa Bay. Huff went 0-for-4, ending his
13-game hitting streak.
Jeremi Gonzalez (6-8) gave up three runs and nine hits in 6 1-3
"It was a good ballgame," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella
said. "They've got good pitching. It starts with that. They just
Terrence Long extended the Oakland lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice
fly in the third. Long played after appealing a four-game
suspension assessed for bumping an umpire Tuesday at Baltimore.
Lugo made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the bottom of the third,
his career-high 11th home run.
Ramon Hernandez hit the Athletics second sacrifice fly with the
bases loaded for a 3-1 lead in the seventh.
"A pretty good formula ... good starting pitching, good relief
pitching and a couple of timely sac flys," Macha said.
Oakland scored just three times despite having runners in
scoring position in five of the first seven innings.
Gonzalez (foot) and Lilly (leg) were both hit by batted
balls in the first inning, but remained in the game. ... Devil Rays
bench coach John McLaren served a one-game suspension for arguing
with umpire Joe Brinkman last Sunday. ... Oakland RF Jermaine Dye
went 0-for-3 and is hitless in 11 at-bats since returning from a
right shoulder injury Tuesday. ... Tampa Bay 3B Jared Sandberg
stopped an 0-for-17 slide -- that included nine strikeouts -- with a
fifth-inning double. ... Devil Rays LF Carl Crawford grounded into
a double play in the fifth inning. It was just his third GIDP in
785 career at-bats, but his second in four days. ... Crawford stole
second in the eighth inning and leads the AL with 46.