Tampa Bay Rays SS Yunel Escobar said before a game last week in Baltimore that he was working hard and hoped the work would pay off in more production at the plate. It did Sunday, when he had three hits and fell a triple shy of his first career cycle.


Escobar homered, doubled and singled and drove in two runs in the Rays’ 8-1 victory against the A’s.


“Since last year you see some hitters go through some struggles sometimes,” Escobar said through Joel Peralta, who served as his translator. “I’m trying to get better because I want to help this team win games.”


In five games since being dropped to the ninth spot in the batting order April 17, Escobar has hit .333 (6-for-18) after hitting .089 (4-for-45) in his first 13 games.


“He continues to grind it out,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You got to appreciate his approach to the day. Things had not been going well for him offensively, but he’s still been playing a complete game and he plays with enthusiasm.”


Escobar is the only Ray to have played every inning of every game this season. His last three-hit game was Sept. 23, 2012, at Tropicana Field while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.