ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had their reasons for cutting loose Jonny Gomes after the 2008 season, though certainly the signing of Pat Burrell was not a good one.
Gomes has gone on to do well for himself, playing for the Reds, Nationals and now his almost-hometown A's, but he admits he will always have a special spot in his heart for the Rays.
And an interesting way of showing it.
Gomes, for the second time this season, beat the Rays with a home run off reliever Joel Peralta, a two-run shot in the eighth Friday that gave Oakland a 5-4 win.
"I've always had a lot of respect for Jon Gomes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I've talked about that for years. He's a good baseball player. The guy cares. And he beat us tonight. He beat us against a guy with an equally big heart. These guys, they're gamers. And Jon came out on top tonight. (But) I'll always put my money on Joel Peralta."
The loss, just the Rays' fourth in their past 18 games, dropped them to 70-56 and 3½ games behind the American League East-leading Yankees, though the Rays did maintain their lead in the wild-card race.
Typical of their resurgent play, they made it close, scoring once in the ninth and getting the tying run to second but no farther before a Tropicana Field crowd of 18,913. Their last five losses were all by one run.
Also familiar, they got a strong start from rookie lefty Matt Moore, who had what Maddon said "might have been his best stuff all year … reminiscent of the end of last season."
But Moore had issues, allowing two runs in a messy 28-pitch fourth, which included two, two-out singles and a hit batter on a 1-and-2 pitch. Then he had more problems in the seventh, allowing back-to-back doubles that produced the tying run.
"He looked good and all of a sudden boom-boom and then we're in trouble," Maddon said.
The Rays might have been in a different position going to the eighth except for a miscommunication between third-base coach Tom Foley and Evan Longoria, who looked, even with what Maddon called "the new Longo rules," like he could have scored from second on Ryan Roberts' two-out single.
The Rays have drilled into Longoria, who missed more than three months with a left hamstring injury, to be cautious. So Foley, rather than his usual windmilling gesture to send a runner, pointed toward the plate and yelled at Longoria to take it easy, but Longoria instead stopped at third.
"It was a misunderstanding," Foley said. "I'm usually cranking it."
Still, the Rays felt good in a tie game with Peralta on the mound, and even better after he got two quick outs. Then Chris Carter singled, and Gomes, who normally faces lefties but is now 2-for-3 off the righty Peralta this season, turned on a high fastball, the eighth homer Peralta has allowed this season.
"I did have a little scouting report on him," Gomes said. "That's how close games are won, a bloop and a blast."
Peralta, normally one of the most accommodating Rays, left without talking to the media.
Gomes has now played eight games against the Rays and hit in each, 10-for-29 (.345) overall, with three homers and six RBIs, including his 12th-inning homer off Peralta in the May 5 game, giving the A's a 4-3 win.
"He's a special guy for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Don't the Rays know it.