ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Roberto Hernandez flashed a big smile after an extremely satisfying game.
Hernandez pitched six effective innings Sunday for his first win since he was known as Fausto Carmona, and the Tampa Bay Rays complete a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics with an 8-1 victory.
“Good for him, man,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I really think that’s something for him to build off of. I’m sure the confidence needed a booster, and that’s a booster shot right there.”
Hernandez (1-3) allowed one run, three hits, three walks and had seven strikeouts in his first win since Sept. 20, 2011, while with Cleveland.
“Wow! A long time,” Hernandez said.
The 32-year old right-hander was arrested in January 2012 in the Dominican Republic on false identity charges — as Carmona. They were dropped after he completed a work program.
Oakland starter Tommy Milone (3-1) had his season-opening three-game winning streak end. The left-hander gave up six runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Milone is 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in three career starts against Tampa Bay.
Jake McGee and Brandon Gomes completed the three-hitter. One day after having a DJ play music in the clubhouse to help relax his team, Maddon had a magician doing card tricks Sunday.
“It’s about just keeping the guys ready, keeping the guys loose,” Maddon said. “I want them to be prepared mentally, and not be exhausted mentally whenever they go out on the field. Things like that, I do things to break it up.”
Hernandez became the first Tampa Bay starter 31 years old or older to get a win since Mark Hendrickson on June 20, 2006.
It was the Rays’ first sweep of three or more games against Oakland since May 2005. Tampa Bay held the Athletics, who entered with a major’s best 96 runs, to just four in the three-game set.
The Rays took a 3-0 lead in the first. Ryan Roberts scored the first run from third when Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick dropped Evan Longoria’s fly. After later loading the bases, Sean Rodriguez drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch and Kelly Johnson hit a sacrifice fly.
Yunel Escobar made it 4-0 on a second-inning homer.
“I get in the middle of the game I sort of found it for a while,” Milone said. “I was throwing quality strikes and keeping them off base. I thought that was the key especially since they went up early. I was just trying to keep the team in the game.”
Reddick cut the deficit to 4-1 on Oakland’s first hit, a two-out RBI single in the fourth. The Athletics failed to score after loading the bases with two outs during the fifth when Brandon Moss flew out to right on a 3-2 pitch.
“I’d be stupid not to give their pitching staff credit,” Moss said. “They did an outstanding job of keeping us off-balance all series. They used their off-speed extremely well and then when you’d get in an off-speed count, they would paint a heater.”
Oakland went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position against Hernandez, and 1 for 13 overall. The Athletics had three hits in 25 at-bats in the series with runners in scoring position.
“A few days ago we were getting all the big hits, and for a series here we didn’t,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Roberts had an RBI double during a two-run seventh that extended the Rays lead to 6-1. Escobar added a run-scoring single as Tampa Bay also scored twice in the eighth for an 8-1 advantage.
NOTES: Oakland LHP Brett Anderson, who left after the first inning with a sprained right ankle on Friday, threw off a bullpen mound. Melvin said he has a good feeling that Anderson will be able to make his start Wednesday. “Threw a very aggressive side today,” Melvin said. “We made him go after it like he would in a game.” ... Tampa Bay DH Luke Scott (strained right calf) could start a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday. ... Athletics OF Yoenis Cespedes (strained left hand muscle) could be ready to resume batting practice in the next few days.