ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Jonny Gomes changed the game in a hurry for the Oakland Athletics.
"That's how close games are won, with a bloop and a blast," Gomes said Friday night after his two-run home run off Joel Peralta in the eighth inning lifted the A's to a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I don't get that at-bat without (Chris) Carter's bloop (single)."
Chris Carter's two-out hit off Peralta (1-6) set up Gomes' game-winning blast that broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Rays to their second loss in eight games, dropping them 3½ games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
The A's remained tied for the second wild-card spot after winning for the seventh time in nine games.
"I think we're pretty hot, too," said Oakland starter Jarrod Parker, who went six innings for the A's, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out seven.
"When we're able to come into this game and battle and just face people blow-for-blow, it's fun. Jonny came up with a huge hit. We battled all game and just kept at it."
Ryan Cook (6-2) earned the win in relief.
Luke Scott's pinch-hit double got a run back for the Rays in the ninth before Grant Balfour finished for his 13th save.
Gomes, who played for the Rays from 2003-2008, has hit safely in all eight of his games against his former team with three homers in 26 at-bats. It was his 15th home run of the season.
Ben Zobrist's 15th home run opened the scoring for Tampa Bay, but Yoenis Cespedes' triple keyed a two-run fourth inning for Oakland. The inning ended when Josh Donaldson was caught trying to steal home with the bases loaded.
"I don't know what to say about that one," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "No one has the green light at third, let's put it that way.
"It's a play where if you make it, everybody loves you. If not ... there you have it."
The Rays also failed to convert a bases-loaded situation. Leading 3-2 in the sixth, they had runners on first and second with two outs when Ryan Roberts drove a single up the middle. But Evan Longoria was held up at third base, and Parker struck out Jose Molina to end the threat.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Longoria was stopped by third-base coach Tom Foley because of new "Longo Rules" that discourage base running chances that might cause Longoria to reinjure his hamstring.
"It really was frustrating. That's a game we normally win," Maddon said. "I've got to give Oakland a lot of credit. Oakland is really playing well. It's very similar to our group of players. They're no fluke. You've got to bring your 'A' game to beat them."
Rays starter Matt Moore struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs and seven hits.
NOTES: The three-game series will conclude Saturday afternoon because Tropicana Field will be used as a venue for the Republican National Convention. ... The A's purchased the contract of right-hander Jesse Chavez from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. The 29-year-old Chavez split this season between Toronto and Triple-A Las Vegas, going 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA in two starts and seven relief appearances for the Blue Jays. ... Oakland recalled right-hander Jim Miller from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned pitcher Tyson Ross to the Pacific Coast League club. ... Oakland manager Bob Melvin said INF Brandon Inge (sprained right shoulder) , who is on a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, is scheduled to play defense Friday and Saturday and then have his status evaluated.