OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics were tired of
failing to score runs for their ace.
Thanks to his team's big night with the bats, Barry Zito finally
earned an easy win, a night after going home with the flu.
Eric Byrnes had a two-run triple and a season-high four RBI,
and Zito snapped a five-start winless stretch, leading the A's over
the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 11-2 on Wednesday night for a three-game
"It's impressive," said Byrnes, who ended an 0-for-14 slump
and finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle for the second
time in his career. "Guys are starting to swing the bats like we
thought they could. This is what we expected from the beginning.
We've got to build off this. ... This is a very lucky game."
The reigning AL Rookie of the Year was activated from the
disabled list Monday after recovering from two broken ribs.
Zito (2-6), the only remaining member of Oakland's former "Big
Three" pitchers, won for the first time in exactly a month -- he
beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on May 1. A's starters won
back-to-back games for the first time all season, with Dan Haren
pitching his first career complete game in Tuesday's 10-1 win.
Oakland also scored 10 or more runs for the first time since last
June against the Pirates.
Zito has been patient with his poor results.
"I've gotten such an attitude and become so hardy," he said,
still dealing with fatigue and body aches from being sick. "I've
got to be like a freshly waxed car and let everything bead right
off you. It seems like this season has been so long already and
we've got four months left."
The A's matched their season-best winning streak of three games
following an eight-game skid, giving them their first sweep of the
season. Their previous series sweep was from Aug. 27-29 last
season, also against Tampa Bay in the Coliseum.
The Devil Rays swept the A's last week in Florida.
"This doesn't look like the same club that got swept in
Tampa," said A's manager Ken Macha, who largely credits patience
at the plate for the recent success.
While the A's are playing much better, they are refusing to get
too excited about this stretch -- especially considering it is just
the dismal Devil Rays. But this is progress: The A's snapped a
streak of 27 straight series without a sweep, the third-longest
such stretch in Oakland history.
Damon Hollins, the top AL rookie in May, hit an RBI single in
the third and another in the eighth for the Devil Rays, who lost
their fifth in a row and sixth straight road game to fall to a
major league-worst 3-21 away from Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay is on
a 12-game road trip.
Ellis connected off Mark Hendrickson (2-3) for his first homer
of the year to start the A's six-run second inning. It was his
first homer since 2003, because he missed all of last season with a
The A's tagged Hendrickson, the 6-foot-9 left-hander, for six
hits in the inning and sent 10 batters to the plate -- with Crosby
hitting twice. Oakland also scored an unearned run thanks to Julio
Lugo's fielding error at shortstop.
Hendrickson gave up career highs of nine earned runs and 13
hits. He threw 121 pitches in 5 1/3 innings.
When asked whether he considered taking Hendrickson out sooner,
Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella had an outburst.
"What was I going to do with him?" Piniella hollered. "What'd
you want me to do with him? ... You've seen our bullpen. Our
bullpen has not been in good shape. This guy at least gave us
[five] innings. He did the best he could after he gave up runs."
The run support was a huge boost for Zito, considering the A's
hadn't scored more than four runs in his previous 11 starts and had
only 17 total for him coming in.
Zito allowed a double to Eduardo Perez to start the fourth, then
the lefty retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced -- including
1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh before giving way to Britt
Reames to start the eighth. Zito struck out four and walked two.
After Byrnes' triple, Hendrickson got 10 straight outs before
Crosby's fifth-inning double. Kielty's second RBI single of the
game chased Hendrickson in the sixth.
"My mindset was to keep battling," Hendrickson said. "I
didn't turn my head and sulk."
Oakland's Dan Johnson earned his first major league RBI in
the sixth. ... The Devil Rays are 6-30 in Oakland, their worst
record in any AL city. ... Hendrickson, 0-3 with an 11.12 ERA in
Oakland, allowed 10 or more hits for the eighth time in his career.
... Piniella liked RHP Chad Orvella's performance in his major
league debut in the seventh inning Tuesday. While the Devil Rays
still want to see him in back-to-back outings, Piniella can see him
fitting in nicely in a setup role -- a problem area for this team so
far. ... Injured A's closer Octavio Dotel received a third opinion
on his elbow that confirmed he has tendinitis.