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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays have used strong pitching and timely hitting to reach the top of the standings.
Alex Colome and four relievers combined on a six-hitter, David DeJesus drove in two runs and the Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 3-0 on Thursday night to take sole possession of first place in the AL East.
"I think you embrace playing good baseball," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "You want to be in this position at the end of the year. It's always nice to be here where we're at, so we wouldn't change anything, but I don't think we'll get too caught up where we're at this given point."
Colome (3-1) gave up four hits over five innings. Steve Geltz, Kevin Jepsen, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger, who pitched the ninth for his 12th save, all threw an inning.
DeJesus had an RBI double in the fourth and hit a solo homer during a two-run seventh that put Tampa Bay up 3-0.
"When we get a win, that's the most important thing," DeJesus said. "That's why we're here."
The Rays (23-19), who took a half-game lead over the idle New York Yankees, have held opponents to two or fewer runs in 21 of 42 games this season.
Jesse Chavez (1-4) allowed three runs and five hits in six-plus innings for Oakland, which has lost 13 of 15. It's the first time the A's (14-29) have been 15-games under .500 since Sept. 27, 2011.
Brandon Guyer scored the other seventh-inning run after hitting a single, stealing second and third, and scoring on Bobby Wilson's groundout that hit reliever Edward Mujica and broke his right thumb. The thumb also required several stitches for a cut.
"It's a minor fracture," Mujica said. "The tendon and everything is fine. Just have to get the swelling down and get the fracture out and start throwing."
Mujica will be going on the disabled list.
Billy Burns opened the game with a triple, but was left stranded after some questionable baserunning. He didn't try to advance on Marcus Semien's fly to center that appeared deep enough for him to score on and then nearly got doubled up on Josh Reddick's grounder to first.
"He didn't mean to do it, just took off too early and once he realized he did that, he had to go back," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Oakland also failed to score in the fourth after loading the bases with two outs when Sam Fuld, mired in a 3-for-48 slide, hit a grounder.
The Athletics put two on with two outs in the ninth before Brett Lawrie struck out.
Athletics: OF Coco Crisp (neck) will see a specialist Friday. ... INF-OF Ben Zobrist (left knee) will join Triple-A Nashville Friday and could return early next week. ... LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder) will throw an inning Friday for Nashville. ... LHP Eric O'Flaherty (shoulder) will have his first bullpen session Saturday. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz had a cortisone shot in the AC joint of his throwing shoulder and could shortly resume throwing.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore (elbow surgery) is scheduled to throw two innings in his first extended spring training game Saturday.
Oakland pitching coach Curt Young missed the game to attend his daughter's high school graduation.
Rays 3B Evan Longoria played in his 1,000th major league game. He got his 1,000th hit May 5 against Boston.
Colome was called for an automatic ball by umpire Joe West during Semien's at-bat in the third for going to the mouth with his fingers while on the mound.
Athletics LHP Scott Kazmir (2-2, 3.08 ERA) will face his old team Friday. The Rays will start RHP Chris Archer (4-4. 2.47 ERA).