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News » Rays-Athletics Preview 2009-04-25

Rays-Athletics Preview 2009-04-25

Rays-Athletics Preview 2009-04-25
The Tampa Bay Rays insist it's only a matter of time before they break out of their early season funk. A weekend set in Oakland could be providing the spark they need.

Coming off a big offensive night in the series opener, the Rays look to win consecutive games for the first time in almost two weeks Saturday when they continue their series against the Athletics.

One day after losing 1-0 at Seattle, the second loss in three contests against the Mariners to open a nine-game road trip, the bats came alive for Tampa Bay in an 8-2 win over Oakland on Friday.

Carlos Pena hit two homers and drove in four runs while Jason Bartlett had four hits for the Rays (7-10), who won an opener for the first time in four road series.

The defending AL champions are 3-7 since their last consecutive wins April 12-13. They've scored 23 runs in the victories during that span, but only 14 in the seven defeats.

"We're going to come around," shortstop Ben Zobrist told the Rays' official Web site. "This is such a good team and so many good things are going to happen that we're not going to get down on ourselves."

After going without a homer in his five previous games, Pena, who has 21 RBIs, took over the major league home run lead with eight after Friday's performance.

"I just try working hard at keeping things simple," said Pena, who has four home runs in his last three games against Oakland.

The Rays hope Matt Garza (1-1, 4.58 ERA) can bounce back from a poor start when he takes the ball in this contest. He allowed seven runs, six hits and walked five in 5 2-3 innings of a 12-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

Garza - the first right-handed starter Oakland will have faced in seven contests - allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings of relief in a 1-0 loss to the A's in 2006, the only previous time he's opposed them.

Tampa Bay is seeking its fourth straight win both overall and on the road against Oakland (5-10), which has lost five in a row - all to teams from the AL East.

Oakland's Jack Hannahan homered in his 2009 debut Friday and Ryan Sweeney drove in a run, but the A's have been outscored 27-14 during their losing streak.

Dallas Braden (1-2, 2.79), the only Oakland starter to record a victory in 2009, will take the ball in this contest. The left-hander allowed one run and five hits in a career-high 7 1-3 innings of Oakland's 1-0 loss at Toronto on Sunday.

"It was all right, but I thought it could have been a little better," he told the Athletics' official Web site.

Braden is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 25, 2009

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