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Rays

Gomes haunts Rays as A's take 12-inning win

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 05:14 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The end of the streak was met with music and not the kind you'd expect for a team that lost for the first time in nearly week on a 12th-inning home run by a former teammate.

No, inside the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse late Saturday night was a three-man mariachi band that lifted their spirits after their 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics in front of 23,890 at Tropicana Field.

"We try not to hang our heads for too long, and even though it was definitely a tough loss, it hurt, why not dance our pain away," first baseman Carlos Peña said.

It was Cinco De Mayo, and the band was booked for what was expected to be a lively postgame party.

"If we had won, the party would have been a lot better," Peña said.

Instead, Jonny Gomes threw a wrench in those plans when he led off the 12th with a home run off Joel Peralta, the Rays' sixth reliever of the long evening.

"It's on me," Peralta said. "I'm supposed to be better than that in that situation, make sure I throw the pitch like I did to the rest of the guys I faced. Everything went well with the rest of the guys. It was supposed to be with (Gomes), too. I just missed it."

The loss snapped the Rays' six-game winning streak and ended their streak of 10 straight home wins, one shy of tying the club record set in 2008. It also prevented the Rays from becoming only the sixth team in major league history to begin the home schedule 14-1.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson had the shortest outing of his career, lasting only 3 2/3 innings. He was charged with three runs but was taken off the hook for his first loss of the season by three solo home runs from his offense and a bullpen that nearly picked up 8 1/3 innings.

"That's going to happen sometimes," Peralta said. "We got the probably the best rotation in this league. Once in a while that's going to happen. We got to be ready for that. They're not always going to give us those seven, eight or nine innings."

Hellickson couldn't command his fastball. Of his 102 pitches, 61 were thrown after there were two outs in an inning and 35 came after he had two strikes on a batter.

"The bullpen was superb," manager Joe Maddon said. "The numbers they covered, how well they covered them, giving up absolutely nothing."

J.P. Howell was the first in the parade of relievers, replacing Hellickson with two on and two out in the fourth and allowing an RBI single to the first batter he faced. That gave the A's a 3-1 lead.

Howell then retired the next seven batters, and Jake McGee, Burke Badenhop, Fernando Rodney and Brandon Gomes kept the A's scoreless until the 12th.

Brandon Gomes had an interesting night. He loaded the bases with one out in the 10th with a pair of walks and a hit batter, but got out of the jam.

Maddon, hoping to avoid using Peralta and Wade Davis, sent Gomes back out in the 11th, and he set the A's down in order.

Afterwards, Gomes was optioned to Triple-A Durham so the Rays could call up a a fresh arm in time for today's game.

Meanwhile, the Rays received home runs from Elliot Johnson, Ben Zobrist and Peña.

Johnson's was his first of the season. Zobrist's represented just his second hit on the homestand that started last Monday. Peña's was his first since April 24 and tied the score at 3-3 in the fifth.

The Rays had a chance to win in the ninth when Jeff Keppinger led off with a pinch-hit single and advanced all the way to third. He stayed there, though, when B.J. Upton's long drive to right-center field was caught at the warning track.

Peña opened the 10th with a line drive to left field, but Jonny Gomes made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Peña of extra-bases.

"He goes after every ball hard, he runs the bases hard, so it doesn't surprise me," Peña said.

Sean Rodriguez led off the 11th with a gift of a double when his pop fly to shallow right field fell between three fielders. Rodriguez moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Gimenez and tried to score on a squeeze play, but Johnson, bunting with two strikes, couldn't get down the bunt.

Desmond Jennings ended that threat when he lined out to center.

Maddon finally called on Peralta and Jonny Gomes hit his third pitch into the left field seats.

"An extra-inning home run is nice to have on your resume, absolutely," Gomes said. "It's not to rub it in Tampa's face, or 'It's awesome,' because it's against my old team. At this point, I have a whole bunch of extra teams."

Peralta said it came on a splitter that he wanted to bury in the strike zone, but it stayed up.

"After we battled like that and the bullpen did such a good job, just missing a pitch," Peralta said. "That pitch to Gomes wasn't what I wanted and he got it."

Peralta was in the trainer's room when the mariachi band played so he missed the party.

"This team is different than everywhere I've been, than every team in the league," Peralta said. "That's why we play so good and play so hard for this manager. I've never seen that after a loss, having a party in the clubhouse. So, it's good in a way."

Maddon, not surprisingly, was all for the band.

"It's a loss. I understand and appreciate how hard our guys play, how hard they prepare, how much they care. It's just a loss," Maddon said. "You feel like you're going to win the rest of the games all season. That's not going to happen.

"Based on that effort, what we've been going through and how well we've been playing, bring on the mariachis."


rmooney@tampatrib.com

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