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OAK@TB: A's score two runs without a hit

ST. PETERSBURG -- It's good to be the A's right now.

How good?

They were one-hit Wednesday night and still won for a fifth straight time.

Oakland's 3-2 victory over the host Rays, prompted by a fourth-inning solo home run from Brandon Moss and more than a little help by way of two defensive errors from the opposing side, is the club's fifth straight and 11th in its past 12 games.

"It's not the easiest way to win a baseball game," Moss said.

It is also extremely rare.

Since at least 1913, the A's had never done it in a regular-season game, only once accomplishing the feat with a one-hit win in Game 4 of the 1974 American League Championship Series at Baltimore on a Reggie Jackson double.

Moreover, Oakland is the first team to win with a home run as its only hit since the White Sox beat the Cardinals that way on June 22, 2006.

"One's all you need," a smiling Bob Melvin said.

Melvin's club, which got another solid start from Tommy Milone and a gutsy performance from the bullpen, is now a season-high 14 games over .500 at a Major League-best 30-16, the first time the A's have held sole possession of baseball's top record since Sept. 23, 2002.

"We're a very well put together team," said Moss, "and our pitching staff … I mean, I don't think there's anyone better."

Oakland's 2.90 team ERA -- including a 1.65 mark in the past 12 games -- is indeed best in the American League and second-best in the Majors only to Atlanta's 2.83.

Milone extended the pitching staff's scoreless streak to 17 innings by facing just three over the minimum through the first five frames, giving the Rays their only two runs of this series in the sixth.

It could have been more, but after Milone surrendered an RBI base hit to James Loney to put runners at first and second, the lefty settled down and forced two popups. Right-hander Fernando Rodriguez was brought in to get the final out, which followed Yunel Escobar's run-scoring single.

The Rays were held off the board in the final three frames, as Oakland's bullpen preserved the lead even after Luke Gregerson put runners at the corners with just one out in the eighth.

Fernando Abad entered the game to face pinch-hitter and former A's outfielder David DeJesus, who drew a walk to load the bases. But Abad got Escobar to ground into a double play to end the inning.

"That was huge," catcher Derek Norris said. "That one wins the ballgame in my mind. He came in, not in an easy situation, and DeJesus is not an easy guy to get out. Unfortunately walked him on a close pitch down and away and then got Escobar with a jam-job double play.

"He's got a switch. Whenever he gets into a tight situation, he bears down and is all of a sudden throwing 96 with sink, a big hammer curveball and a slider to work off that. Once he gets that adrenaline going, the sky's the limit for him. He's unbelievable."

Rays lefty Erik Bedard struck out two of his first three batters in a 13-pitch first inning but was forced to throw 31 in a two-error second that led to two unearned runs.

Three walks did not help Bedard, and the A's would compile seven free passes in all on the odd night.

Newly anointed closer Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many days and fourth of the season to protect the win for Milone, who has a 1.37 ERA over his past three starts after posting a 5.86 ERA over his first five.

"When I go out there I feel confident," Milone said. "Really, the last three starts D-No's caught me, I don't think I've shook him off one time. It's a really comfortable feeling knowing I can go out there and whatever he throws down, and I can execute it."

For Moss, it was his second homer off a lefty and 10th overall, tying him for the team lead with Josh Donaldson. He is batting .370 in 27 at- bats against lefties, to go along with a .667 slugging percentage.

"I'm one of two lefties in the lineup," Moss said. "If he throws me strikes, I gotta swing at 'em."

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