Valencia's 3rd HR rescues A's in series win

Valencia's 3rd HR rescues A's in series win

ST. PETERSBURG -- Danny Valencia hit three home runs, including a go-ahead, two-run shot in the ninth inning, to lead the A's to a 7-6 series-winning victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon.

It was the second multi-homer game of the series for Valencia, who has five home runs in his last three games. The third baseman totaled five RBIs in Sunday's slugfest, which also featured three Rays home runs off A's right-hander Sonny Gray, including two from Brandon Guyer.

"I felt pretty good the whole series, and I got some good pitches to hit and really didn't miss them," Valencia said. "It's one of those days where you don't really experience because I've never done that before, but it felt great, and it's nice to be on the winning side of it."

Evan Longoria was responsible for Tampa's third homer, while Chris Coghlan also homered off the bench for the A's, who finished their road trip, 3-6.

Gray was on the hook for six runs in 5 2/3 innings, but only three were earned, as the struggling ace watched his ERA move from 6.00 to 5.84. The three home runs tied a career high for Gray, who allowed three other hits and walked two, striking out four.

Gray has breakthrough, makes adjustment

Longoria's solo home run

Rays starter Matt Moore went five innings, allowing four runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

"It's something where I felt better than the four runs I gave up," Moore said. "At the same time, you've got to execute."

Powering up:
Valencia was mired in a 69 at-bat homerless stretch dating back to last season before finishing with five in this series. The third baseman, whose ninth-inning homer followed a two-out double off the bat of Billy Burns, is riding a 10-game hitting streak in which he's 15-for-37 (.405).

"He's our middle-of-the-order guy, and to see him come up with three huge homers was huge," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "And that last one, the feeling in our dugout was, 'he's gonna hit another one.' It wasn't, 'I hope he hits another one.' It was, 'he's hitting another one right now.'" More >

Not just another Guy-er: He set the tone for his big day with a leadoff home run to left-center field in the first inning. From there, Guyer was the Rays' offensive engine on an afternoon when Tampa Bay followed its six-run output on Saturday with another strong showing. Before Sunday, he had six RBIs in 67 at-bats.

"I was just trying to keep things simple," Guyer said. "Keep doing what I've been doing. … The results are there right now, and keep working hard, that's all I can do." More >

Guyer's sacrifice fly

Miscue magnified: Gray should have exited the second inning without a run allowed, but second baseman Tyler Ladendorf botched a potential inning-ending grounder off the bat of Hank Conger to put runners on first and second for Guyer, who hit the first pitch he saw from Gray into the left-field stands for his second homer of the day, a three-run shot.

Costly mistake: It took one pitch from Rays reliever Steve Geltz for Valencia to give the A's the lead for good. Reliever Xavier Cedeno retired Coghlan and Coco Crisp to begin the ninth inning before Burns doubled to left-center field. Then Rays manager Kevin Cash made the change to Geltz, who has given up one run in four of his past six relief appearances.

"He just jumped on the first pitch and put it out," Geltz said. "I've got to make better pitches than that, be more competitive, help the team out."

"Look the guy, Valencia, is on fire, obviously. We probably just got to watch our player of the week in baseball. Unfortunately, it came against us." -- Cash, on Valencia

Valencia's five home runs this series traveled a combined 2,098 feet, per Statcast™, for an average of 419.6 feet per homer.

Vogt took a foul ball off his left thumb during the game and underwent X-rays that proved negative. After the game, the catcher said, "It's not awesome."

Vogt shaken up on strikeout

A's: The A's return home on Monday to begin a three-game series against the Rangers. Rookie Sean Manaea gets the start in the 7:05 p.m. PT series opener, looking to rebound from a forgettable night in Boston. The lefty surrendered eight runs on 10 hits in just 2 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday, taking the loss in his third career big league start.

Rays: Tampa Bay hits the road for a eight-game, nine-day trip starting Monday against Toronto at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Left-hander Drew Smyly receives the start, seeking a recovery after he allowed a season-high six runs and 10 hits in a loss to the Mariners last Tuesday. Smyly, who will face the Blue Jays for the third time this season, is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in seven career appearances against Toronto.

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Andrew Astleford is a contributor to and covered the Rays on Sunday.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.