OAKLAND As Rays right fielder Wil Myers staggered onto the warning track, his eyes fixed on the ball hit by Stephen Vogt as it carried in the air toward the right-field wall, Vogt said a series of thoughts ran quickly through his head.
"Right off the bat I thought, 'Ooh, maybe,' " the A's catcher said. "And then I thought, 'Oh, no, he's going to catch it.' And then as soon as I kind of saw the way he was going back to the wall, I was thinking three right away. I was not stopping."
Myers timed his leap well, but the ball cleared his glove and bounced off the out-of-town scoreboard and back toward the field. By the time center fielder Desmond Jennings threw it back into the infield, Vogt was halfway to third, sliding into the bag for his first career triple to lead off the sixth inning in a scoreless game.
Coco Crisp then singled past a pulled-in Rays infield to give the A's their first run against Rays starter Alex Cobb and added a solo homer off Cobb in the eighth, providing all the offense for the A's and rookie right-hander Sonny Gray in a 2-1 win Saturday night.
It gave the A's a 1 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay in the wild-card race and closed a 14-13 month of August their ninth consecutive winning month dating back to last June.
After Gray and Cobb traded zeroes for the first five innings, each striking out five hitters in the first two, A's manager Bob Melvin said Vogt's triple "felt like a three-run homer."
Crisp, standing on deck, said he briefly lost track of the ball in the darkening sky, and "I was hoping it would just drop."
Vogt said he was looking for a 1-0 fastball from Cobb but got a curveball that stayed up in the strike zone. It was his first major-league triple after 20 in seven minor-league seasons six of which he spent in the Rays organization after they drafted him in 2007 and one more hit than he had in 25 at-bats with Tampa Bay last season before the A's acquired him this spring for cash.
Asked if the hit meant more coming against his former team, Vogt said: "Obviously I'd be lying to you if I said no. It's fun to play against them and just see familiar faces across the way, and to help the team win is huge for me personally and for the team."
Few appreciated it more than Gray, who has now made three starts at O.co Coliseum and allowed two runs in 21 2/3 innings with 23 strikeouts.
Saturday, he didn't allow a runner past second base until the fifth, when Jose Lobaton doubled and moved up on a two-out balk. Gray, though, got David DeJesus to ground out to end the inning.
Coming off the worst of his seven big-league outings 3 1/3 innings, six runs against the Orioles Gray came within an out of completing seven innings before James Loney's two-out single knocked him out of the game. Melvin appeared to shrug as he took the ball from Gray, as if to say, "What more could you do?"
"Take an average 23-year-old and to have a start like he did in Baltimore and then bounce back like he did tonight, that shows his maturity and his composure, his ability to make adjustments and just to pitch," Vogt said.
Sean Doolittle got the final out of the seventh and the first two in the eighth before Dan Otero came on to strike out Evan Longoria with a runner on second. Crisp's homer proved key as Grant Balfour allowed a two-out RBI single by Jennings in the ninth before getting Kelly Johnson to ground out to end the game with runners on first and second.
Notes A's catcher John Jaso remains on the disabled list with concussion symptoms, having not played since July 24, but Melvin said before the game the A's "haven't ruled him out as a piece for us in September."
Melvin said the A's will likely add three players from the minors when MLB rosters expand today and "a couple more" Tuesday, but declined to say who will be called up.
Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015, and read his online reports at blogs.sacbee.com/ bay-area-baseball.