OAKLAND — Fan favorite Kurt Suzuki greeted his old fans with a three-run homer in his first game back at the Coliseum with Oakland since being traded away last August, Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead double in the eighth, and the Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
Lowrie extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his Oakland-record 13th double in August, off Joel Peralta. James Loney had tied it with a double in the top half for Tampa Bay.
Jarrod Parker dueled with David Price to run his unbeaten streak to 17 straight starts, matching Catfish Hunter’s Oakland record set from June 2-Sept. 3, 1973. The A’s pulled within two games of the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West, and moved ahead of Tampa Bay in the wild card.
Price (8-6) lost for the first time in nine starts since July 12 against Houston.
Parker came out for the eighth at 100 pitches, but gave way to winner Ryan Cook (6-3) after allowing the first two hitters to reach. Grant Balfour pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 36 chances, leaving the tying run aboard.
Oakland beat the Rays for the first time after being swept in Florida from April 19-21. Tampa Bay outscored the reigning AL West champions 17-4 in that series.
With the Bay Bridge closed all weekend, the Rays’ team bus left San Francisco at 2 p.m. Friday and didn’t arrive to the Coliseum until 3:45. Price opted to take a cab before his start Friday, and it cost him a whopping $202, then tweeted he would take a helicopter Saturday.
Manager Joe Maddon plans to take the BART train Saturday.
Friday got stranger for the Rays when reliever Fernando Rodney briefly got stuck in the dugout bathroom during the game.
For Suzuki, rejoining the A’s for a pennant race has worked out well so far. He was cheered at every chance despite his light pregame remarks that he expected “a bunch of boos.”
Yunel Escobar hit an RBI single and Matt Joyce a sacrifice fly as the Rays kicked off a stretch with 13 of 16 games on the road.