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Rays snap four-game losing streak in 5-3 win over A’s

The Rays needed a deep bullpen and strong defense to win a tight game on Friday night in Oakland.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Emilio Pagan, right, celebrates with catcher Travis d'Arnaud after the team's 5-3 win over Oakland Athletics in a baseball game Friday, June 21, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Emilio Pagan, right, celebrates with catcher Travis d'Arnaud after the team's 5-3 win over Oakland Athletics in a baseball game Friday, June 21, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Published Jun. 22, 2019|Updated Jun. 22, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Rays needed nearly every available arm Friday to pull themselves out of their season-high four-game losing streak.

They used seven pitchers to preserve a 5-3 win over the Oakland Athletics, earning that elusive win five games into their 10-game cross-country-and-back road trip.

The Rays’ beleaguered bullpen bent but didn’t break. Tampa Bay overcame two early infielder errors with some incredible defensive when it mattered most and recorded just enough clutch hitting.

Related: MORE RAYS: Cash has faith in this struggling reliever

“It took every bit of our roster, every bit of our pitching staff to get it done,” manager Kevin Cash said. "But at the end of the day, our guys came through, made some big pitches when we needed to, some tremendous plays defensively and some timely hits. So it was encouraging.

" We had a rough go for three days in New York, and then last night was kind of the icing on the cake. Good to see the guys bounce back and find a way to win the game."

The Rays entered the night 11-18 in games decided by two runs or less.

“It’s intense,” shortstop Willy Adames said of playing in close games. “I feel like the players want to play in those games. It’s better when you get 25 runs, three hits each, but it’s intense when you’re playing by one run and it feels good to play like that.”

After getting swept out of Yankee Stadium by a 21-4 margin in three games and flying across the country, the Rays lost Thursday’s opener in Oakland by blowing a three-run ninth-inning lead.

On Friday, they leaned on their most dependable reliever to close. Former Athletics right-hander Emilio Pagan induced a pair of weakly hit ground-ball outs to end the game.

Willy Adames, congratulated by Ji-Man Choi after scoring in the ninth inning Friday night, homered and threw out a runner at the plate in the Rays' 5-3 win at Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Willy Adames, congratulated by Ji-Man Choi after scoring in the ninth inning Friday night, homered and threw out a runner at the plate in the Rays' 5-3 win at Oakland. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

“To be able to come up tonight in big situations is huge because it’s a momentum builder for the team,” said Pagan, who lowered his ERA to 1.23. “If we get going on all cylinders this team can be really scary. And we still haven’t done that yet, really at any point during the season."

The Rays received some fine overall play from Adames and second baseman Brandon Lowe, who each recorded three hits and turned in key defensive plays in a pivotal sixth inning.

“It feels amazing to get back to winning,” said Adames, whose sixth-inning homer gave the Rays a 4-2 lead. “We’ve been struggling a little bit, but that’s going to happen in baseball.”

In the sixth, Jurickson Profar laced a double off the left-field wall, but Adames’ relay nabbed Khris Davis at home to save a run.

Related: MORE RAYS: Kevin Cash's interesting take on the Rays' Montreal plan

“That was probably my favorite part of the night,” Lowe said. “Seeing that relay happen in front of me was incredible.”

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And then Lowe made a diving back-handed stab on the left side of second on Stephen Piscotty’s ball up the middle to strand Profar in scoring position.

“You’re not going to see a better play from a second basemen at that spot to come up and make that throw,” Cash said.

“It’s electric," Adames said. “When you make a play like that, your whole body feels like you’re floating."

After left-hander Colin Poche allowed an RBI double to Matt Olson to cut the Rays’ lead to one run with no outs in the eighth, struggling right-hander Chaz Roe retired both batters he faced, and right-hander Oliver Drake recorded the inning’s final out

Drake issued an 11-pitch walk to Piscotty to open the ninth, then struck out Robbie Grossman. Pagan earned recorded his third save by getting weak groundball outs from Mark Canha and Marcus Semien.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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