OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics are doing all the things they weren't doing before the All-Star break: being patient at the plate, moving runners over and getting timely hits.
They're also winning.Conor Jackson hit a two-run double in the seventh inning and the A's rallied from three runs down to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5 on Monday night."I think it's just apparent that everybody's not chasing like we have in the past," said Jackson, who also singled and scored Oakland's first run. "We're working counts, we're taking our walks and we're swinging at pitches in the zone. When you do that, it makes it a little more fun."The A's, who went into the game with the best batting average in the majors since the All-Star Game, have won six of their last 10 but still trail first-place Texas by 13 1/2 games in the AL West."The guys that struggled a little bit in the first half who have some track records are starting to swing the bat again," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Just like it can be contagious when you're not swinging well, it can be contagious when you're swinging well. If you can get one or two guys going, some guys follow suit."Cliff Pennington homered for the second time in four games and David DeJesus added two hits, including an RBI single to start Oakland's uprising against Tampa Bay's bullpen.Oakland trailed 5-2 but scored once off starter Jeremy Hellickson in the sixth then took the lead with a three-run seventh.Hideki Matsui, named AL Player of the Week earlier in the day, started the rally with a one-out single against reliever J.P. Howell (2-2). Josh Willingham walked and DeJesus followed with his single to drive in Matsui.Joel Peralta replaced Howell and promptly gave up Jackson's double to center. Willingham scored and DeJesus slid in to home with the go-ahead run just ahead of the tag of catcher Kelly Shoppach."I missed a lot of time the past two years so for me to start playing consistently and get a lot of at-bats in a row, I'm starting to feel more comfortable," Jackson said. "It's been a while since I've strung a lot of bats together so it's starting to click."Ben Zobrist homered and doubled twice for the Rays, who lost for the third time in four games and dropped to 4-7 since the All-Star break."We didn't get our normal pitching tonight," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Helly, if he had had better command, would have had a better chance to go deeper in the game. We needed him to do that to really set up the bullpen properly."After the A's rallied in the seventh, Oakland's bullpen did the rest.Brian Fuentes (2-8), the second of five A's pitchers, worked two-thirds of an inning for his first win since April 27. Andrew Bailey gave up two-out double and walk but retired Matt Joyce on a called third strike for his 12th save in 14 tries.Every Oakland starter except Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore had at least one hit. Coco Crisp doubled in Pennington with an insurance run in the eighth.Hellickson was in line to become the first rookie pitcher in the majors with 10 wins this season before the Rays' bullpen blew up.The 24-year-old rookie, coming off victories against the Cardinals and Yankees, gave up Pennington's two-run home run in the second inning and allowed another run in the fifth. Hellickson walked four but left with only his second no-decision of the season."I just didn't do a good job of throwing strikes," Hellickson said.Zobrist homered with two outs in the first off Guillermo Moscoso, who allowed five runs and eight hits with four walks.Pennington's home run off Hellickson in the second extended his hitting streak to nine games and gave the A's a 2-1 lead.Desmond Jennings' RBI double in the third tied the game before Johnny Damon scored on Weeks' throwing error in the fifth to give Tampa Bay the lead. B.J. Upton also tripled in the inning to drive in Joyce.Shoppach homered against Moscoso leading off the sixth to make it 5-2.Jennings had two hits, including an RBI double in the second. The Tampa Bay outfielder is batting 6-for-11 (.545) since being called up from Triple-A Durham before Saturday's game against Kansas City.
Damon's double was the 505th of his career and left him one shy of tying Babe Ruth for 47th on baseball's career list. Zobrist has 40 RBIs on the road this season compared to 13 at Tropicana Field. ... Evan Longoria walked four times in five plat appearances, the first four-walk game of his career. ... The A's reinstated RHP Tyson Ross from the disabled list and optioned him to Sacramento (PCL). ... DeJesus' double in the sixth was the 200th of his career. ... Oakland signed RHP Sonny Gray, the 18th overall player selected in this year's draft, and plan to have the right-hander report to Arizona for two weeks of conditioning before moving on to Double-A Midland in August. Gray went 12-3 with a 2.12 ERA and had 124 strikeouts with 46 walks in 119 innings this past season at Vanderbilt.