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OAK@TB: Gomes slugs a go-ahead homer in the 12th

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- Former Tampa Bay Ray Jonny Gomes belted a home run leading off the 12th inning Saturday night to give the A's a hard-fought 4-3 marathon victory over the Rays, ending Tampa Bay's six-game winning streak.

Grant Balfour, another former Ray, closed out the game in the bottom of the 12th to claim his seventh save as Tampa Bay lost for just the second time in 15 games at Tropicana Field this year.

"I've got nothing but respect for the Rays and that organization," insisted Gomes, who made an outstanding catch in the 10th inning before he hit his game-winning homer. "It really was not any more special to get a home run against them. But an extra-inning home run is nice to have on your resume. What was important was to get a win against the best team in baseball right now. That's what it means to me.

"I wasn't trying to rub it in to them," continued Gomes, who played for the Rays from 2003 to 2008. "I don't play any harder against them. I've got a bunch of ex-teams."

"The whole Rays thing doesn't play in it for me," said A's manager Bob Melvin, who was happy just to come away from the game with a win. "There was a crazy feel to the game."

The A's bullpen again came through when it had to, as Jordan Noberto, Ryan Cook, Brian Fuentes and Balfour held the Rays to just three hits over the final seven innings after starter Bartolo Colon was forced to leave the game with an upset stomach.

"I got the winning hit, but you've got to tip your cap to our bullpen," said Gomes. "This game would have been over a long time ago if it wasn't for them."

"The bullpen. The bullpen did the job. Our guys really stepped it up," agreed right fielder Josh Reddick, who, like Gomes, contributed a home run and an outstanding catch to the cause.

Melvin also credited the bullpen. "Grant [Balfour] really needed that one," the manager said.

"Gomes has been big for us this year," added Melvin. "If you're giving out the Player of the Game, there's no doubt in it for me."

"That's just the way Jonny plays," said Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena. "He goes all out, all the time.

"It was a tough way to lose," continued Pena, who played for the A's in 2002. "But you've got to tip your hat to the way they played."

Colon yielded home runs to Tampa Bay's Elliot Johnson, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena before departing after five innings with the score tied at 3-3 in what was Joe Maddon's 1,000th game as the Rays' manager.

"Bartolo took the mound a little under the weather," Melvin explained. "He was a little sick so we got him out of there."

The A's again grabbed an early 1-0 lead as Reddick homered off Tampa's Jeremy Hellickson with two gone in the first inning, his fifth HR of the year, tying him with Yoenis Cespedes for the team lead. The A's added a run in the third when Cliff Pennington reached on an error by Zobrist, and scored on Kila Ka'aihue's single.

Johnson cut that advantage in half when he led off the bottom of the third with his first home run of the season.

Hellickson, who was bidding to become the first starting pitcher ever to begin the season 4-0 after winning the Rookie of the Year award the previous season, departed with two outs in the fourth inning, trailing 2-1, having allowed five hits.

Reddick immediately made it 3-1 with a single off reliever J.P. Howell, but Zobrist countered with an HR to begin the bottom of the fourth.

Pena tied the score with his fifth home run of the season, a huge blast to right field, leading off the fifth.

The A's loaded the bases with one away in the 10th. But Brandon Inge struck out swinging and Jemile Weeks grounded to first.

The Rays almost ended the game in the 11th when Sean Rodriguez blooped a double into shallow right field where the converging right fielder Reddick, second baseman Weeks and first baseman Daric Barton all lost sight of the ball. But with Rodriguez on third with one away, Johnson was out trying to bunt with two strikes and Desmond Jennings flied to center.

"It was just one of those nights." said Maddon.

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