ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays, barring something really extraordinary, are not going to log enough victories to make it into the playoffs this year.
But by hanging on Sunday to beat the A's for a second straight day, 5-4 this time, they made it official that for the first time since 2013 they will finish with a winning record.
Their 82nd W was fitting for the season, in that it didn't come nearly as easy as it could have.
The Rays got extraordinary pitching from their first five pitchers, who combined over eight shutout innings to allow just three hits, Oakland not getting its first until one out into the fifth.
Diego Castillo worked a 1-2-3 first as the opener, then was followed by Andrew Kittredge (who got the win), Hunter Wood and Jaime Schultz, who worked two innings apiece, then Adam Kolarek one.
Manager Kevin Cash turned to Jake Faria for the ninth, and that turned out to be a bad move, as he walked the first three A's to load the bases.
Jose Alvarado got the first out, but Cash then switched to Sergio Romo, and majors home-run leader Khris Davis greeted him with a grand slam. Romo rebounded to finish the job for his 21st save.
The Rays offense came in staccato bursts.
The Rays started in the first with two outs, when C.J. Cron delivered his 27th homer of the season, a two-run shot. They added one in the fourth when Willy Adames launched a blast to left, his ninth of the season. And they tacked on in the seventh when Matt Duffy doubled, Cron walked and Brandon Lowe lined a ball to right for a two-run triple.
After falling just short Friday, the Rays took two of three from the second-wild-card holding A's, cutting their lead to seven games, though with only 14 left to play.
The Rays, now a season high 16 games over .500 at 82-66, left after the game for Texas, where they open a three-game series on Monday night with the AL West trailing Rangers. They also have seven games left with the Blue Jays and four