Final in 10

Series: Game 1 of 3

Oakland leads 1-0 (as of 8/20)

Game 1: Friday, August 20
in 10
Tampa Bay5
Game 2: Saturday, August 21
Tampa Bay0
Game 3: Sunday, August 22
Tampa Bay2

Athletics 9

(69-52, 31-33 away)

Devil Rays 5

(55-67, 35-29 home)

    7:15 PM ET, August 20, 2004

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    R H E
    OAK - -
    TB - -

    W: R. Harden (8-5)

    L: J. Sosa (3-3)

    S: O. Dotel (27)

    A's have hit 11 homers in past three games

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A little relaxation helped Bobby Crosby break out of a slump.

    Crosby went 3-for-5 with a home run and Eric Chavez homered twice to lead the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-5 Friday night.

    Crosby had just three hits in 40 at-bats and stopped an 0-for-14 slide with a second-inning double.

    "I remember, after that first month when I struggled, I just got to the point where I said, I don't care anymore. I'm not going to stress over it," Crosby said. "Whatever happened, I'm just going out there and play. I'm not going to beat myself up about it."

    Chavez homered twice for the 11th time in his career, the second this season, and raised his season total to 23. Adam Melhuse also homered for Oakland, which has 11 homers in the past three games.

    Oakland remained a half-game ahead of Texas and 1½ games ahead of Anaheim in the tightest of the six division races.

    "You look up at the scoreboard and you see everybody's winning, it's in our minds we better put up a 'W," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "We're getting down to the end. Everybody's got to be extremely intense everyday."

    Rich Harden (8-5) won his fifth straight decision, giving up five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. With their fourth straight win, the A's moved a season-high 17-games over .500 at 69-52.

    Three relievers combined for 3 1-3 scoreless innings, and Octavio Dotel got the last out for his 13th save in 17 chances.

    Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Tino Martinez homered for the Devil Rays, who have lost three straight and nine of 10. Tampa Bay is 15-29 since moving a season-high two games over .500 on July 3 (40-38).

    "It goes to show you how much further we got to go," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "We got a reminder of it. A taste of it. What are you going to do? Everybody is trying. The manager is trying. The coaches are trying. The players are trying. The problem is, there's reasons why these teams are above .500 and we're below."

    Jorge Sosa (3-3) lost his third straight start, allowing six runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The Devil Rays have a 7.61 ERA over the past 10 games.

    Scott Hatteberg put the A's up 1-0 with an RBI single in the first, but Crawford tied it in the bottom half with a leadoff homer.

    Melhuse had a solo homer and Mark Kotsay hit a sacrifice fly that gave Oakland a 3-1 lead in the second. The Athletics left the bases loaded later in the inning when right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. ran down Hatteberg's drive near the wall with two outs.

    Chavez extended the Oakland advantage to 4-1 with a fourth-inning solo homer.

    The Devil Rays cut the margin in the fifth when Jorge Cantu scored from third on a double-play grounder by Geoff Blum.

    Crosby hit his 16th homer during a four-run sixth that made it 8-2, his first homer in 71 at-bats since July 27.

    "He got some pitches to hit, and didn't miss them," Macha said. "I think before he would be fouling them off."

    Erubiel Durazo also drove in two runs with a single and Eric Byrnes had an RBI single in the sixth.

    Upton hit a solo homer and Martinez added a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth. Martinez has 318 homers, tying for 88th place with Roy Sievers.

    Chavez homered leading off the eighth.

    Game notes

    Harden and Sosa both allowed three homers. ... Oakland OF Jermaine Dye (sore thumb) did not play. ... Tampa Bay OF Joey Gathright was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for 1B-DH Randall Simon, who was signed Thursday. ... Oakland has won six straight road games. ... Crawford homered in consecutive games for first time.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press