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Rays break out in sixth inning to cloud A's day

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally
handed Esteban Loaiza a loss.

Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford had RBI singles during a
tiebreaking three-run sixth inning as the Devil Rays beat Loaiza
and the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics 9-6 Saturday night.

Tampa Bay took a 7-5 lead on the hits by Baldelli and Crawford
off Loaiza (9-8). Ty Wigginton extended the advantage to 8-5 with a
bases-loaded walk off reliever Chad Gaudin.

"The only thing I can say is that they hit everything," Loaiza
said. "I was doing what I had been doing, getting ahead in the
count and making them swing the bats. They put the bat on the ball
and everything went their way."

Loaiza allowed eight runs, 12 hits, one walk and had seven
strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. He was 5-0 in his previous six
starts, giving up seven runs -- six earned -- over 45 1/3 innings
during the stretch.

"Loaiza's been a hot pitcher, especially of late," Wigginton
said. "To go out there and put up those kind of numbers against
him, it's a pretty good feat."

Frank Thomas homered for the fourth consecutive game for the
Athletics, who started the day with a 5½ game lead over Los
Angeles. The Angels hosted Toronto late Saturday night.

Tampa Bay got a solo homer from Greg Norton.

B.J. Upton had an RBI double, and Wigginton and Kevin Witt hit
run-scoring singles during a four-run fourth that put the Devil
Rays ahead 4-2.

"The one at-bat that was pretty big was Wigginton up there with
two strikes on him," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "He threw
him a fastball and he ripped it in the hole there with the infield
in."

Norton had a sacrifice fly in fourth, and hit his 14th homer
inning later to make it 5-3.

"It's kind of ironic because the two bottom dwellers of the AL
in offense, we've swung the bats pretty well this series so far,"
Norton said. "Last night we battled, came back and just came up a
little bit short. Tonight they were doing the same thing, and we
got some big hits and we were able to come out on top."

The Athletics (.259) and Tampa Bay (.254) have the lowest team
batting averages in the AL.

"When he [Loaiza] started out that game, I said 'heads up
tonight,'" Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He looked very
calm and confident. The fastball, the slider, the cutter, it was
all going on. I thought this might be a difficult night. I just
think we kept grinding out the at-bats."

Oakland tied the score at 5 in the sixth on Marco Scutaro's RBI
single and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Dan Johnson off Dan
Miceli (1-1).

Seth McClung pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

Thomas hit his 482nd career homer and Jason Kendall was hit by a
pitch from J.P. Howell with the bases loaded to put Oakland ahead
2-0 in the second.

Thomas, who has 34 homers and 94 RBI this season, got the
Athletics within 4-3 on an RBI grounder in the fifth inning. He
tied Billy Williams for 38th place all-time with 948 extra base
hits.

Kendall has been hit by pitch 11 times this season, and 208 for
his career -- seventh-most in major league history.

Ben Zobrist's RBI triple made it 9-5 in the seventh against
Gaudin, who didn't allowed a run in his previous 20 outings.
Scutaro had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Howell gave up three runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Game notes
Tampa Bay LHP Scott Kazmir (sore left shoulder) hopes to
resume playing catch in the next few days. He stopped his first
session of playing catch in two weeks Friday after nine throws when
he felt discomfort in the shoulder. ... Oakland CF Mark Kotsay will
return to the Bay Area for treatment of a back injury. He could
return Friday. ... Athletics 3B Eric Chavez, a five-time Gold Glove
winner, misplayed Zobrist's grounder in the fourth for his fourth
error of the season. ... This is Thomas' longest consecutive homer
streak since a five-game run May 24-29, 1994.