Crosby homer all A's need to top banged-up Rays

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Gio Gonzalez found himself faced with two runners in scoring position and the top of the order coming to bat. The Oakland rookie is a good listener, though, and he focused on what his catcher and pitching coach had to say during a meeting on the mound.

"That was all it took," Gonzalez said Tuesday night after earning his first major league victory, a 2-1 Athletics win over the Tampa Bay Rays. "I calmed down once I heard what they had to say."

Gonzalez pitched out of that jam and got help from his bullpen the rest of the way in his first home start with Oakland.

Bobby Crosby hit a two-run homer in support of Gonzalez, who went five-plus innings in his second career start. The A's won for the second time in 14 games to briefly derail the AL East-leading Rays.

Jerry Blevins and Joey Devine combined to pitch three scoreless innings, and Brad Ziegler got three outs for his second save.

Ziegler extended his scoreless streak to 38 innings, breaking Mike Torrez's club record set in 1976. It's also the longest such run to begin a career in modern major league history (since 1900).

"Once Jerry Blevins got me out of that jam I knew we were going to win," said Gonzalez, who mentioned the lineup card, a wet baseball, a water-soaking and just watching the game as the souvenirs and memories he'll take with him.

Akinori Iwamura drove in a run and Jason Bartlett had two hits for the Rays, who lost for the third time in 13 games. Their lead in the AL East dropped to three games over Boston.

With rookie slugger Evan Longoria and outfielder Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list, the Rays managed six hits. Rocco Baldelli, playing just his second game after missing more than a year because of assorted ailments, batted cleanup and went 1-for-3.

Scott Kazmir (8-6) failed to pitch more than five innings for the fourth consecutive start. He allowed two hits and two runs in five innings, with a pair of walks and six strikeouts. He's left the game behind or tied in six of his last seven starts.

"In my last inning I felt everything was working well," Kazmir said. "I'd like to get a little more comfortable in the first couple of innings. I get behind in the count, try to get a strike and let up just a little bit and give up a home run."

Kazmir, who averages 9.87 strikeouts per nine innings, had won his last four decisions against the A's and six of seven overall. He fell to 1-3 in his last eight starts.

Emil Brown walked to open the second and Crosby followed with his seventh home run of the season, a shot into the left-field bleachers. Kazmir retired 12 of his final 15 batters.

"We didn't hit the cover off the ball but we got what we needed," Crosby said. "Gio has been awesome ever since he settled down after the first inning in Toronto."

Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the third. Bartlett doubled and Iwamura hit a sacrifice fly.

Gonzalez (1-1), acquired in the trade that sent Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox, walked two batters with one out in the fourth but came back to strike out the next two hitters.

"Strikeout pitchers can get out of it themselves," A's manager Bob Geren said. "That's a key difference between top-notch pitchers and average pitchers."

Zobrist and Bartlett each singled to open the fifth. A botched safety squeeze bunt cost the Rays one run when B.J. Upton followed with a single. Gonzalez got Bartlett leaning off second for a caught stealing, and Carlos Pena flied out.

"We kind of messed things up," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We tried to do one thing with the bat and we didn't read it right. We got outpitched and they made good plays."

A's right fielder Ryan Sweeney hurt his right thumb making a diving catch late in the game and will likely miss a game or two.

"It was definitely sore," Geren said. "He certainly hurt the thumb."

Game notes
Oakland LHP Lenny DiNardo was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and INF Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment to make room for INF Cliff Pennington, who made his major league debut. ... The A's scored four runs or fewer for the 14th straight game, matching the Oakland record set in June 1978. ... The Rays are 12-37 in Oakland, their worst record in any AL ballpark.