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Early home runs help A’s beat ace Tyler Glasnow, Rays

The Athletics had already faced Tyler Glasnow once. They had seen the sharp fastball and been outclassed by looping breaking balls. But they also managed to form a plan to beat the Rays’ ace if they saw him again. And in their 6-3 victory over Glasnow and the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, they expeditiously put that plan into action to improve to 21-14 on the year.

Oakland jumped on Glasnow (4-2) right away. In the first inning they forced him to throw 30 pitches, punctuated by a towering two-run home run to center by Seth Brown, who hit his first career walk-off homer in the A’s 2-1 win against the Rays on Friday night.

While the A’s weren’t able to stretch Glasnow’s pitch count as much in the second inning, catcher Austin Allen hammered a line drive homer to right to give his team a 3-0 lead against one of the league’s premier pitchers.

Brown and Allen’s homers represented the A’s only two hits off Glasnow, who struck out 11 batters. But the box score hardly tells the whole story. Oakland was able to force Glasnow to throw 101 pitches in 5.2 innings. It was his second-shortest outing this year and the second-most pitches he’s thrown in an outing that lasted six or fewer innings.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said before the game that running Glasnow’s pitch count up was his team’s primary objective in order to get to the Tampa Bay bullpen. Oakland scored three runs on four hits and two walks off the Rays’ pen.

Oakland was able to execute on the mound on Saturday, too. Right-handed starter Frankie Montas allowed two runs over 5.1 innings and struck out six. Entering play, Montas hadn’t allowed fewer than three runs in a start since April 16 when he pitched six shutout innings against Detroit. And while Brandon Lowe’s two-run home run in the sixth inning may have slightly soured what was otherwise a strong day for Montas, he was able to lower his season ERA from 5.87 to 5.50 and earn his fourth victory of the year.

The A’s relievers were effective against the Rays as well. Yusmeiro Petit made his American League leading 18th appearance, striking out three in 1.1 scoreless innings. Lefty Jake Diekman was the only A’s reliever to allow a run, which proved inconsequential.

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