ST. PETERSBURG -- Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie remained out of the A's starting lineup with neck soreness in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory, leaving manager Bob Melvin without two of his everyday players for the middle contest of a three-game road set against the Rays.
But Melvin was able to use Crisp in center field in the bottom of the eighth inning, after pinch-hitting for Kyle Blanks in the top of the frame, which forced Brandon Moss from left field to first base and Craig Gentry from center to left.
"I just needed him right there," Melvin said. "He said he was ready to play."
That doesn't ensure Crisp's availability for Thursday's series finale, but it was nonetheless encouraging for the club.
Lowrie, who left Sunday's game prematurely because of the neck strain, has sat out each of the past two games, but Melvin expressed hope he would start Thursday.
Melvin was also without Yoenis Cespedes in the field, giving his left fielder a scheduled start at designated hitter to offset the impact of a stretch of six consecutive games on artificial playing surfaces.