Alex Cobb threw his first career shutout and the Tampa Bay Rays won the opener of a pivotal three-game series against the A’s 5-0 on Thursday.
Matt Joyce had a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning and Evan Longoria added two hits and an RBI as the surging Rays pulled within 2½ games of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Cobb (8-8) rebounded from a shellacking in his last outing to win his fourth straight decision, scattering four hits and striking out eight as Tampa Bay won for the seventh time in eight games and opened a 2½-game lead atop the wild-card standings.
It was the second complete game of the year for Cobb and only the second loss in eight games for Oakland, which dropped into a three-way tie with Baltimore and Detroit for the second wild-card spot.
A’s right-hander Tyson Ross (2-9), recalled from the minors to make the start after Bartolo Colon was suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone, lost his sixth straight decision, allowing five runs on nine hits in six-plus innings.
Tampa Bay was held off the board before teeing off on Ross in the fifth. Ryan Roberts drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and Sam Fuld and Longoria sandwiched RBI singles around the two-run double from Joyce.
NOTES: Former Giant Jeff Keppinger had two hits for the Rays, his sixth multi-hit game in the last 14. ... Ross has surrendered at least five runs in six of his 13 starts this year. ... Oakland shortstop Stephen Drew, playing his third game with the A’s, got his first hit, which snapped an 0-for-22 skid.