OAKLAND — Kurt Suzuki couldn't have scripted his return to the Oakland Coliseum any better.
A longtime fan favorite for the Athletics, he greeted his old supporters with a three-run homer in his first home game back with the club since being traded away last August, and Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead double in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
“It was pretty special,” Suzuki said. “It's awesome. Just being around the guys, I've played with the majority of the guys in this locker room last year or years before. It just seems like I never left.”
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 race.
Price (8-6) had his five-game winning streak snapped, losing 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 a day after blowing a save at Detroit by allowing four runs.
“I'll take that,” Balfour said.
Parker received a couple of early pep talks from Suzuki, who later delivered with the timely home run, which he said “for it to be off a pitcher like Price, who's arguably one of the best pitchers in the game right now, was pretty neat.”
Suzuki is living in a hotel, still carrying a Nationals bag, and eagerly awaiting his family's arrival to the Bay Area on Monday.