ST. PETERSBURG -- The A's busted out for four home runs, including two from third baseman Danny Valencia, to secure a 6-3 series-opening victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday night, snapping a five-game losing streak.
It was the third career multi-homer game for Valencia, who recorded solo shots in the first and sixth innings to snap a 69 at-bat homerless drought dating back to last season. The opening frame also featured a three-run homer from designated hitter Khris Davis, his eighth of the season. Shortstop Marcus Semien notched his team-leading ninth homer in the fourth inning, which would be Rays starter Jake Odorizzi's last.
"I felt jumpy in the box, so it felt like I was almost swinging at everything," said Valencia, playing in his first game since Monday and third since returning from the disabled list. "But I was able to get some good pitches and barrel them."
Odorizzi was responsible for five runs on seven hits and one walk in four innings, while A's starter Rich Hill went six innings to pick up his fifth win, allowing three runs on four hits and as many walks. The lefty totaled seven strikeouts to give him 53 on the season, tied for third most in the American League.
"I actually thought Odo had pretty good stuff tonight," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "And they just did a really good job. … They also had a really good approach on him, staying on the ball and not trying to do too much and getting guys on base."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Crying foul: Credit Billy Burns for sparking a four-run first inning, with the A's outfielder engaging in a 14-pitch at-bat with Odorizzi that ended in a one-out single. Burns, who fouled off 11 pitches in the at-bat, quickly advanced to second on Josh Reddick's ensuing base hit, and both scored on Davis' three-run homer.
"Burns' at-bat was a huge turning point in the game," Valencia said. "I think that at-bat really turned Odorizzi's night around."
"One, you get a little frustrated, two, you get a little tired, you just want the at-bat to end," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Next thing you know, he has 42 pitches in the first inning. That was definitely a key to the inning."
Odorizzi's rough first: The right-hander had a nightmare first inning. He allowed four runs and two home runs as part of a start that required 42 pitches to gain his first three outs. The early hole placed the Rays' anemic offense in a difficult spot.
"Two splits that really weren't that good," Odorizzi said of the home runs. "They were kind of identical to be honest. … It happens. I was just around the zone and trying to get as quick of outs as possible." More >
Six strong: The A's got just nine innings total from their starters in a three-game series in Boston this week, magnifying the significance of Hill's ability to complete six on Friday. The left-hander's performance snapped a seven-game streak in which A's starters had not been able to get through six innings.
"It was important to set the tone for this series and go out there and be aggressive," said Hill, who has a 2.68 ERA after eight starts. "I know the bullpen's been taxed, so the biggest thing was to go deep in the game. I didn't go deep, but I got deep enough where I felt I gave us a chance, which is what you want to do."
Going quiet: The Rays forced Hill to throw 33 pitches in the first inning, but he settled soon after that early push. After earning two runs on two hits in the first, Tampa Bay batters didn't collect their third hit until Longoria knocked an RBI double with two outs in the fifth. By then, Oakland had produced five runs.
"I was just trying to slow the game down," Hill said. "Felt really good to start the game. I think I was just a little bit quick with my delivery, and that was really the difference, then was able to slow down in between the second and sixth inning, and that really helped me get back in the zone and command the baseball down."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
A's first baseman Yonder Alonso's sixth-inning single off Dana Eveland was his first hit against a lefty in 13 tries this season. Alonso, who finished with three hits, is riding a season-high eight-game hitting streak.
A's: Right-hander Kendall Graveman, who has a 10.54 ERA over his last three starts, will look to right the ship in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. PT matchup with the host Rays at Tropicana Field. Graveman is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay, spanning 12 innings.
Rays: Right-hander Matt Andriese will make his second start this season as Tampa Bay's fifth starter. He'll look for another strong outing after allowing one run and four hits with three strikeouts in seven innings during a victory over the Angels last Sunday.