Brett Phillips stroked a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning Tuesday night to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics in St. Petersburg, Fla.
With his team down 2-1 against Oakland starter Frankie Montas (2-2), Phillips put Tampa Bay up 3-2 with a two-out, two-strike homer — his first this season — on a drive to center field to also plate Francisco Mejia.
Joey Wendle added an insurance RBI single in the eighth.
Mejia went 3-for-4 for the Rays, who won for the second time in six games and evened the four-game series at one apiece.
Tampa Bay starter Michael Wacha hurled five innings and allowed one run on five hits. The first-year Ray struck out two with no walks.
Sean Murphy was 2-for-4 and homered for the second straight game, and Matt Olson tallied two hits for the A’s, who lost for just the second time in their last 16 games.
Montas pitched six innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked two.
In the home half of the first, leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermaier lashed the first pitch he saw from Montas into the right-field corner and easily legged out his first triple.
The Rays went up 1-0 two batters later when drawn-in third baseman Vimael Machin could not handle a chopper and committed a fielding error on a ball hit by Randy Arozarena, who was credited with an RBI.
Wacha avoided major damage in a bases-loaded, no-out second after three consecutive singles by Mitch Moreland, Murphy and Stephen Piscotty for the A’s, who were only able to tie the game on Machin’s run-scoring groundout.
In the fourth, the Rays threatened with a two-out double by Mejia, but Montas fanned Phillips to keep the contest knotted at 1-1.
Tampa Bay’s struggling offense was set up again in the fifth when Brandon Lowe reached base on Montas’ throwing error and Arozarena followed with a walk, but the right-hander bore down and struck out Austin Meadows and forced a groundout by Wendle.
With reliever Jeffrey Springs (1-0) on in the sixth, Olson doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Moreland’s sacrifice fly gave the visitors their first lead. Springs was the pitcher of record in the bottom of the inning when Phillips homered, earning Springs his sixth career win.
Diego Castillo allowed Murphy’s solo homer in the ninth but struck out pinch hitter Matt Chapman to earn his fifth save in seven chances.
–Field Level Media