OAKLAND (AP) — Sean Doolittle’s first appearance in nearly three months didn’t go very well. Fresh off the disabled list, the Athletics closer lasted just five batters and let a late one-run lead slip away.
Eric Sogard and Mark Canha made it a moot point and saved Oakland’s bullpen from yet another meltdown.
Sogard hit a tiebreaking two-run single and Canha had a bases-loaded triple as part of a seven-run seventh inning and the A’s beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 on Sunday.
“The numbers might not totally reflect how resilient this team is,” Doolittle said. “They’ve come back an awful lot this year. To a man, they fight.”
Doolittle was making just his second appearance of the season and first since going on the disabled list in late May after being sidelined with a strained left shoulder.
He inherited a 1-0 lead but struggled with his command and left after walking two of the five batters he faced while giving up two runs and recording only two outs.
Oakland also overcame a pair of baserunning errors, including having their majors-leading 19th runner thrown out at home plate.
“Good offense can make some of those things go away,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We had the lead and now all of a sudden it’s gone again. We’ve seen that happen way too often.”
Canha finished with four RBIs while Billy Burns added three hits for the A’s, who won for just the third time in 12 games.
The A’s went into the game with the worst record in the AL and managed only three hits through the first six innings before matching their season high with seven runs in one inning.
Stephen Vogt had two hits as part of the seventh when the Oakland sent 12 men to the plate. Vogt was also thrown out at home two batters before Sogard’s hit off Steve Geltz (2-5) put the A’s ahead for good.
Canha hit a bases-loaded triple later in the inning and Danny Valencia had an RBI single to make it 8-2.
“It was awesome to see the way that they bounced back,” Doolittle said. “They picked me up and got me off the hook.”
Fernando Rodriguez (3-1) retired four batters for the win after the Rays scored twice off Doolittle in the seventh.
Desmond Jennings drove in one run and Rene Rivera had an RBI single for Tampa Bay, which failed to complete its first-ever series sweep at the Coliseum.
“We’ve given up some leads,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “And when you do, the ‘pen becomes the focal point.”
Both bullpens melted down after strong outings by the starters.
Tampa Bay’s Jake Odorizzi didn’t give up a hit until Burns’ leadoff triple in the third. Canha followed with an RBI single but Odorizzi allowed only one other hit and left with no decision.
A’s starter Kendall Graveman remained winless in eight starts despite giving up three hits over six innings. He struck out three, walked one and didn’t allow a run for the first time since July 4 but was forced out of the game with a left oblique strain.
Athletics: Melvin didn’t sound too optimistic about Graveman. “Might be a little while,” Melvin said. “We may be looking at an issue with him. We’ll take a hard look at it probably tomorrow.” . Valencia was back in the lineup despite tendinitis in his right knee. Valencia appeared to injure the same knee when he ran into the tarp chasing down Asdrubal Cabrera’s foul ball in the second inning and limped away.
Rays: RHP Nathan Karns (7-5) is unbeaten in six starts since the All-Star break. The rookie, who pitches the series opener against Minnesota on Tuesday, has also allowed two runs or fewer in 18 of his starts, most in the AL.
Athletics: LHP Felix Doubrant (1-1) makes his second start since being added to Oakland’s rotation. Doubrant’s allowed only one hit and one run over six innings against the Dodgers in his previous start.