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A's finish record month with loss to Rays

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POSTED July 31, 2012 11:17 p.m.

OAKLAND (AP) — Athletics manager Bob Melvin is hoping his team can turn its fantastic July into stellar stretch run.

James Shields pitched a three-hitter, B.J. Upton drove in two runs and the Tampa Bay Rays broke out of their prolonged offensive slump to beat Oakland 8-0 on Tuesday night, slowing what has been the best month in A's franchise history.

"We've played really well to get to where we are," Melvin said. "A lot of that happened this month."

Tampa Bay went into the game last in the majors in hitting and had scored only nine runs in its previous four games before knocking A's starter Tommy Milone around for two runs in the second and three in the fifth.

"I fell behind hitters and left the ball up," Milone said. "Strike one is a big pitch for me. If I don't get that, then I have to throw a good pitch and I get into a deeper hole."

Shields (9-7) gave up a one-out single to Chris Carter in the second, a leadoff single to Jemile Weeks in the fourth and a two-out single to George Kottaras in the eighth.

The game lasted just 2 hours, 37 minutes, a sharp turnaround from 24 hours earlier when the two teams played 15 innings in a marathon that went 5 hours, 9 minutes and ended after midnight.

Oakland, which set a franchise record for winning percentage in July, fell to 13-4 since the break.

The A's didn't get a runner past second and were shut out for the 12th time this season.

"I don't think I've ever ben with a team that has had that much success in a month," Melvin said. "We broke a franchise record. That's pretty good. You try to carry the momentum into August."

Milone (9-8) was tagged for five runs in six innings against Tampa Bay. Milone, who allowed only six earned runs over 59 2-3 innings in his previous eight starts at home, struck out four and walked one.

NOTES: Oakland CF Coco Crisp took batting practice in the cage but remains sidelined with a tight left hamstring. ... RHP Brandon McCarthy threw 66 pitches in his most recent outing in the minors and may make one more rehab start before rejoining the A's. ... Cliff Pennington (elbow) took batting practice for the first time since going on the disabled list July 20. ... Monday's game was the longest at the Oakland Coliseum since July 3, 1983, when the A's and Texas played for 5 hours, 19 minutes. ... RHP Jarrod Parker (7-4) pitches the series finale for Oakland while RHP Alex Cobb (4-8) goes for Tampa Bay.

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