Sonny Gray lasted just five innings, surrendering nine hits and seven earned runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Ben Margot/AP)

Gray struggles with command again as A’s drop series opener to Rays

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray’s struggle-filled 2016 campaign persisted Thursday night at The Coliseum.

After breaking his two-month winless streak in his last start, Gray lacked command of his fastball against a suddenly hot Tampa Bay Rays offense.

Gray labored through five innings, giving up seven earned runs on nine hits. The Rays broke the game open in the fifth with five consecutive hits to start the inning, securing a 7-3 lead, which eventually became the final score.

After Gray surrendered one run apiece in the first two innings, Jake Smolinski gave the A’s a short-lived 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 2nd with a three-run homer that barely cleared the 15-foot high fence in left-center.

Smolinski has been a pleasant surprise for manager Bob Melvin since being inserted into the starting lineup on a regular basis. He’s slashing .303/.360/.495 on the year.

Right in the middle of the action for the Rays was utility infielder Tim Beckham, who has been in a record-tying mood the last few days.

After tying the Rays team record for hits in a game on Wednesday with five, Beckham homered and singled in his first two at bats Thursday to tie two more team records: hits in consecutive at bats with eight and consecutive times reaching base with nine.

“It’s pretty cool to do,” Beckham said after the game. “But it’s even more fun getting wins.”

Getting wins is something neither of these teams has done a lot of this year.

With the A’s nearly out of contention, much of the conversation in the East Bay surrounded whether or not slugger Josh Reddick would be with the ballclub past the August 1 trade deadline.

Reddick said he hasn’t been paying much attention to the trade rumors, and that he genuinely hopes to be in Oakland for the long term.

“I’m here to help the Oakland A’s win as long as I can,” he said.

A’s manager Bob Melvin concurred when asked about the same possibility, saying only, “I hope he’s not traded.”

Scouts from multiple contending teams were in attendance Thursday, but that could also be attributed to the endless trade rumors surrounding multiple Rays starters, including Matt Moore.

Many teams would be willing to make a deal for Gray as well, but the A’s have expressed little interest in moving their struggling ace.

The A’s announced before Thursday’s game that right-hander Jesse Hahn will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start in Rich Hill’s place on Sunday. A subsequent move will be made before Sunday to make room for Hahn on the active roster.

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