A’s fall to Rays in extra frames

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Oakland Athletics let a three-game series sweep slip away in extra innings.

Sean Rodriguez hit a three-run home run with two out during a four-run 11th inning Thursday to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 victory over the Athletics.

“It’s always nice to win a series, but when you’ve won two and you’re ahead, not being able to close it out is a little disappointing,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. “But you pick up and go on to (Friday).”

The Athletics lost for only the second time in 13 games.

Rodriguez’s team-leading fifth homer came off Luke Gregerson after Desmond Jennings’ two-out single had tied it against Dan Otero (4-1).

“I don’t really think you’re thinking about what the outcome is going to be,” Rodriguez said. “You’re just thinking about trying to put a good swing on a good pitch, and whatever happens, happens.”

Yeonis Cespedes’ sacrifice fly had given the A’s a 2-1 lead in the top of the 11th after he had tied the game with an RBI double in the ninth off Rays closer Grant Balfour.

Cespedes had been 0-for-11 in the series before hitting his double.

Josh Lueke (1-2) got the win after pitching the 11th for the Rays, who broke a four-game losing streak.

“We needed some kind of boost,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “We were foiled in our attempts, and you’ve got to give Oakland credit. They’re playing at a very high level now.”

Yunel Escobar drove in the Rays’ first run with a single in the seventh off Oakland starter Sonny Gray.

Gray pitched eight innings for Oakland, giving up five hits and reducing his league-leading earned run average to 1.99.

“It felt like for a while there might not be any runs scored,” Melvin said. “You’ve just got to wait out the starting pitcher and try to get to the bullpen.”

Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick ran into the wall to rob Wil Myers of an extra base hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the third.

“It was unbelievable,” Gray said. “When he hit it, I thought it was a homer. Then I looked up and I saw Reddick running after it. To see him running that hard, you know something cool is about to happen. At that point it was a game-saver. It was awesome.”

The Associated Press

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