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Bats Wake Up As Rays Salvage Finale In Oakland

 

Jeremy Hellickson threw seven dominant innings for his first win in nearly a year, and Kevin Kiermaier homered and drove in three as the Tampa Bay Rays managed to salvage the finale of their three-game series with the Oakland A's 7-3 Wednesday.

After not taking advantage of opportunities in the first, Tampa Bay got on the board in the second,a s Yunel Escobar and Cole Figueroa led off the inning with singles.  Jose Molina sacrificed the runners up a base, and Escobar scored on a groundout by Kiermaier.

Tampa Bay added on in the fourth inning, as Jose Molina led off by beating out an infield grounder, then scored on a two-run homer by Kiermaier.  Ben Zobrist followed two batters later with a double, and scored on a two-out base hit by Evan Longoria.

The Rays finally chased Sonny Gray in the fifth, as Escobar again led off with a base hit, moving to third on a fielding error by Eric Sogard on a Figueroa grounder.  After Molina struck out, Kiermaier was hit by a Gray pitch to load the bases, Desmond Jennings then busted the game open with a two-run single to make it 6-0, and force Bob Melvin to bring in Jesse Chavez.  Ben Zobrist would score Kiermaier with a single to make it 7-0 and close the book on Gray's afternoon.

Hellickson (1-1) retired the first nine hitters in a row before Coco Crisp singled to lead off the fourth, and would not allow another hit until Sogard blasted his first home run of the year with one out in the sixth.

The right-hander got through seven complete innings of work earned his first win of the year, and first victory as a starter since September 4, 2013.

Oakland would plate a pair on a two-out double by Josh Reddick off Grant Balfour in the bottom of the ninth, but the reliever retired Alberto Callaspo on the next pitch to end the game.

Tampa Bay will have Thursday off as they travel to Chicago, and will begin a three-game series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday.

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