Oakland, CA (Sports Network) – Hideki Matsui has been knocking the cover off the ball since the All-Star break. The Athletics designated hitter had another spectacular night at the plate Wednesday, smacking a three-run homer to highlight a nine-run fourth inning in a 13-4 blowout of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Matsui, who had three hits and drove in five runs, is batting .444 (20-for-45) with 17 RBI since the Midsummer Classic. Ryan Sweeney capped the big inning with a two-run homer. Scott Sizemore added a two-run triple in the frame. Jemile Weeks ended 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored, as the Athletics moved to the brink of a four-game sweep of this series.
“It’s about believing in starting over in the second half and putting the first half behind you,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “All it takes is really a couple of games. We kept preaching as a staff we’re a good offensive team, no matter what the numbers looked like in the first half.”
Trevor Cahill (9-9) allowed four hits and fanned six over 7 1/3 innings to snap a four-game losing streak. It was a much different outcome than his last start, when he allowed 10 runs in a 17-7 loss to the Yankees. James Shields (9-9) was tagged for 12 hits and 10 runs over four innings for the Rays, who lost for the fifth time in six games. Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer for Tampa Bay, which lost for the fifth time in six games.
While the Rays continue to falter and are now 11 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, they did set a record Wednesday night. This was the 705th straight game in which the Rays have started a pitcher under the age of 30, breaking the major league record of 704 set by the 1913-17 Washington Senators, led by Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.
“If we were in any other division we’d probably have a totally different mind set instead of putting so much pressure on ourselves to really keep up with the Yankees or the Red Sox,” Joyce said. “We don’t have that.”
Matsui doubled to center to drive in Weeks in the third and the A’s sent 12 men to the plate in the fourth. Sizemore’s triple to the gap in right-center field plated Conor Jackson and Sweeney. After Landon Powell walked, Weeks blooped a hit to center for a 4-0 cushion.
With two outs, Matsui drove a first offering from Shields over the wall in right for his ninth homer of the year. Josh Willingham doubled and scored on Jackson’s single prior to Sweeney’s homer to right-center. Weeks tripled in a run in the fifth and scored on Matsui’s base hit to center. A sacrifice fly by Weeks in the sixth made it 13-0.
Joyce homered to right off Fautino De Los Santos in the ninth. Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon singled in runs later in the frame.
The 12 hits and 10 runs given up by Shields equal career-highs…The Rays have lost seven of their last eight away games after starting the season 28-18 on the road…The Rays are 3-for-29 with men in scoring position in this series…This was the first homer for Sweeney since May 4, 2010.