ANTONIO GONZALEZ, AP Sports Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays have been reeling since trading ace David Price to Detroit last week. They finally got a chance to see one of the pieces they got back in that deal.
Even he couldn’t stop the skid.
Drew Smyly was solid but not spectacular in his debut as the Rays lost their third straight, 3-0 to the major league-leading Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay has lost five of six after an 11-1 stretch.
“It didn’t feel like we were threatening,” said left fielder Ben Zobrist, who went 0 for 4.
Jason Hammel (1-4) allowed seven hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. He entered the game 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA since the A’s acquired him and Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs on July 4.
The former Rays pitcher said he worked in more breaking balls to keep hitters guessing.
“It’s a lot harder to hit when you’re thinking of four different pitches instead of two,” he said.
Coco Crisp, starting for the first time since July 26, singled home a run in the fifth, and Nate Freiman hit an RBI double during a two-run sixth to spoil Smyly’s debut. Smyly (6-10) gave up all three runs, seven hits and two walks, including one intentional, in 5 1-3 innings.
“I fought pretty good,” Smyly said. “My pitch count got up there. I had a couple of deep counts. I missed my pitch against Freiman. Other than that, I thought I pitched well.”
The Rays never could crack Hammel, who pitched for Tampa Bay from 2006-08, or any of the arms the A’s threw their way. Three relievers tossed scoreless ball before Sean Doolittle pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 20 tries.
The Rays didn’t help out Smyly on defense. Curt Casali was called for catcher’s interference on Josh Reddick’s grounder leading off the A’s eighth. Third baseman Evan Longoria threw way wide on a relay home in the sixth for another error that helped Derek Norris score from first on Freiman’s double. And Kevin Kiermaier tried to cut down Alberto Callaspo at the plate on Crisp’s single in the fifth but sailed his throw to the backstop from right field. “I always encourage guys if they’re going to throw it away, to really throw it away. So he takes instruction well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Really, though, when you’re not scoring, those things get magnified.”
Hammel escaped trouble in the third and fourth innings by inducing a pair of ground balls that led to double plays. A’s shortstop Eric Sogard also snagged Zobrist’s hard grounder and made a quick throw to nab Desmond Jennings at third base for the first out of the fifth. Sogard started at shortstop instead of second base because Jed Lowrie was nursing a bruised right index finger. “He really looked like he was comfortable,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Rays: Outfielder Wil Myers, on the 60-day disabled list with a broken right wrist, went through an extensive workout and drills for the second straight day in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Rays could decide by the end of the week when Myers will begin his rehab assignment.
Athletics: Lowrie (bruised right index finger) is day to day. First baseman Kyle Blanks (left calf injury) ran the bases and will do so again Thursday before Oakland decides whether to send him out on a rehab assignment.
Rays: Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 3.29) tries to snap his six start winless streak, which dates to Sept. 4, 2013.
Athletics: Sonny Gray (12-4, 2.59) goes in the series finale after winning AL Pitcher of the Month for July.
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