OAKLAND After a four-game series in Detroit in which the A's offense broke out for 34 runs against what had been the league's stingiest pitching staff, manager Bob Melvin said he hoped the "great at-bats" he saw would carry into a homestand beginning with six games against teams the A's are jockeying with for postseason positioning.
Friday, one big swing from Kurt Suzuki in his O.co Coliseum homecoming gave the A's a lead against last year's American League Cy Young Award winner in the Rays' David Price a day after they took a lead into the ninth built against a top candidate for this year's honor, Max Scherzer.
As with that lead, the A's gave up Friday's advantage. This time, though, another clutch at-bat gave them a win. After Tampa Bay scored twice in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game, Jed Lowrie lined a one-out RBI double to score Coco Crisp in the bottom of the inning for the difference in a 4-3 win.
Crisp led off the inning with a single and was only standing on second because he had been in motion when Josh Donaldson hit a grounder to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who took the sure out at first. Grant Balfour, who surrendered a three-run homer to Torii Hunter that ushered the A's out of Detroit without a sweep Thursday, closed the win with a scoreless ninth.
With it, the A's gained a full game on the Rangers in the West and leap-frogged Tampa Bay in the wild-card standings for a half-game lead. It was the best possible start for the A's to a 10-game homestand on which they play their next five against those two teams.
It began particularly well for Suzuki, the catcher who spent six seasons playing home games in Oakland before being traded to Washington last summer, and who grinned Friday when asked what kind of reception he expected.
"Bunch of boos," he said.
Not quite. Suzuki received a nice ovation from an announced crowd of 15,603 before his third-inning single. They erupted when he jumped on the first pitch he saw in the fifth, lining it over the left-field wall to give the A's their first runs against Price. Suzuki pumped his fist as he rounded first base following his first homer as a member of the A's since July 22, 2012.
The blast gave a 3-1 lead to Jarrod Parker, who allowed an RBI single to Yunel Escobar in the second inning but scattered three singles his next two times through the Rays' order.
Parker's night ended after the first two Rays reached base in the eighth.
His shot at a win ended when Evan Longoria blooped a single into right field off Ryan Cook to load the bases, Matt Joyce scored one with a sacrifice fly and James Loney won a 10-pitch at-bat against Cook with a double that scored Ben Zobrist and tied the score 3-3.
With Rays still standing on second and third and one out, Cook struck out Desmond Jennings and Kelly Johnson to keep the score tied heading into the bottom of the inning. Parker, meanwhile, still has not had a losing decision since May 22 a span of 17 starts. That ties the longest unbeaten streak in Oakland history, set by Catfish Hunter in 1973.
Notes Catcher Derek Norris (fractured toe) is expected to start a rehab assignment with the River Cats today, with Sacramento finishing its season in Tacoma. Norris is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday.
Fellow catcher John Jaso (concussion) has been doing more baseball-type activities and did cage hitting work before Friday's game, but there is still no set date for his return.
Right fielder Josh Reddick, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right wrist sprain Monday, received a cortisone injection Wednesday, Melvin said.
"It certainly did the trick for Coco (Crisp)," he said. "So we're hoping that maybe it does the trick for him."
Melvin said the A's will see how Bartolo Colon responds to throwing five innings in his first start back from the DL before deciding whether to expand his pitch count for his next start. Colon was on an 80-pitch limit against Detroit and threw 73.