- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Sonny Gray hoped he had turned a corner when he snapped a long losing streak in his first start after the All-Star break. His second start after the break put him right back where he was in a frustrating first half.

Gray allowed homers to Tim Beckham and Corey Dickerson and then was chased following a four-run fifth inning as the Oakland Athletics lost 7-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night

“That game kind of went how my year’s been, giving up the home run then having the big inning,” Gray said. “I thought at the start of the fifth inning I made some pretty good pitches, and suddenly it’s first and second with nobody out and then it didn’t go well from there.”

Little has gone well for Gray this season who has struggled to find the form that made him so successful his first three seasons in the majors, including last year when he finished third in AL Cy Young voting.

Gray (4-9) allowed seven runs in five innings, raising his ERA to 5.49. After starting the season 3-1, Gray’s only win in his past 14 starts came last Saturday against Toronto.

“I think he gets frustrated,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s natural. He’s a competitor, he’s used to getting outs, he’s used to being able to bare down when he wants to, get a groundball when he wants to, get a strikeout when he wants to. It’s been a tough time for him this year.”

Beckham homered and then sparked a four-run inning with his eighth straight hit over three games to lead the Rays to their first three-game winning streak since June 12-15.

Dickerson also homered and drove in three runs, and Logan Forsythe, Brad Miller and Evan Longoria added RBI hits in the fifth inning to back a solid start by Matt Moore (6-7).

Beckham followed up a five-hit game in Colorado on Wednesday by hitting a solo homer in the second and then adding a leadoff single in the big fifth inning that gave Tampa Bay the lead for good.

Beckham, who started the streak with a single in his final at-bat Monday, was finally retired when he popped out to end the sixth but by then he had done his damage. His eight hits in eight at-bats - he walked in his other plate appearance - were one more hit than he had in 41 at-bats in all of June.

He did it all while playing first base for the first time ever with Logan Morrison sidelined by an injured right forearm and Steve Pearce needing a day off.

“That’s not an easy thing,” manager Kevin Cash said. “That’s uncomfortable to go play somewhere in a big league ballgame. You can imagine there’s probably some nerves and anxiety.”

Moore allowed a three-run homer to Jake Smolinski in the second but nothing else in seven innings to earn his first win in eight road starts this season.

Alex Colome got three outs for his 21st save in as many chances.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Morrison got an injection in his injured forearm and is expected to be fine in a day or two.

Athletics: LHP Rich Hill (blister) played catch before the game with protection on his middle finger. He is still not ready to throw curveballs or pitch off the mound. … RHP Zach Neal was recalled from Triple-A Nashville and LHP Patrick Schuster was optioned to Nashville.

TRADE TALK

A’s RF Josh Reddick said he’s tuning out any talk about a possible trade before the Aug. 1 deadline, saying the game is hard enough without worrying about things out of his control. But Reddick did say he is upset there hasn’t been more progress on a long-term deal to keep him in Oakland past this season.

“It’s kind of disheartening to know something hasn’t been worked out so far, and we’ve been four months into it,” he said.

UP NEXT

Rays: Jake Odorizzi (4-5) snapped a six-start winless streak last Sunday against Baltimore when he allowed two runs in six innings for his first win since June 8.

Athletics: Sean Manaea (3-5) faces the Rays for the first time in his career in the second game of the series.

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