A's stung by Rays in St. Petersburg, lose 6-2 behind Morton's strong start

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (AP) - Charlie Morton remained unbeaten with Tampa Bay, pitching seven shutout innings en route to a 6-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Brandon Lowe homered for the third time in two days, snapping a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and helping the Rays take over sole possession of the first place in the AL East with their sixth victory in seven games.

The New York Yankees, who were rained out at home where they were to play the Mets, slipped a half-game behind in the standings.

Morton (8-0) extended his career-best winning streak to 11 games dating to Aug. 17, when he was with the Houston Astros.

The stretch covers 21 starts - 14 of them with Tampa Bay since signing a $30 million, two-year contract in free agency - and is the longest active streak in the major leagues ahead of Milwaukee Davies, who's 7-0 over his past 14 starts.

The 35-year-old right-hander allowed two hits - singles to Marcus Semien in the first and third innings - and retired the last 14 batters he faced. Outfielders Kevin Kiermaier and Tommy Pham robbed the A's of potential hits with leaping catches at the wall.

Stephen Piscotty ruined Tampa Bay's bid for a shutout, driving in Mark Canah with an RBI double and then scoring on Robbie Grossman's run-scoring single in the ninth.

Lowe, who homered twice in Sunday's 6-1 win in Boston, hit a two-run shot off Tanner Anderson (0-1), who was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his debut with Oakland, which acquired him from Pittsburgh last November.

Kiermaier also had a two-run homer for Tampa Bay, going deep against reliever Yusmeiro Petit in the seventh inning. Ji-Man Choi made it 6-0 with a two-run homer off Joakim Soria in the eighth.

Anderson, who went to high school in nearby Tampa, made six relief appearances for the Pirates last season. He allowed two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first big league start.

Attendance was announced as 16,091, a figure helped in part by the Rays putting 5,000 tickets on sale for $5 apiece last week.

The discounted tickets, available on the internet for a limited time, were made available as part of a flash sale, including the first five dates of a seven-game homestand that began Monday.

The allotment for two of the games - against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday and Friday - sold out before last week's deadline.

The Rays entered Monday night averaging 13,802 - 29th among 30 major league teams.


Athletics: C Chris Herrmann (right knee surgery) is expected to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday or Thursday. ... RHP Marco Estrada (lumbar strain) is playing catch at 90 feet. ... Top pitching prospects A.J. Puk (Tommy John surgery) and Jesus Luzardo (strained left rotator cuff) are scheduled to pitch Tuesday night for Class A Stockton.

Rays: INF Joey Wendle (fractured right wrist) could be back this week. ... RHP Tyler Glasnow (right forearm strain) will move his level ground throwing Tuesday out from 75 to 90 feet. He hopes to work off a mound in the near future. ... Backup C Michael Perez (strained right oblique) was reinstated from the 10-day IL and optioned to Triple-A Durham.


Athletics RHP Mike Fiers (5-3) will start the middle date of the three-game series Tuesday night. A reliever will take the ball first for the Rays, however manager Kevin Cash did not plan to say who that will be until after Monday's game.


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