OAKLAND, Calif. — As the Rays headed out of drab McAfee Coliseum for the long plane ride home, there seemed to be two ways to look at Wednesday's 9-1 loss to the A's.
One: After playing four consecutive one-run games (losing twice in St. Louis on the final pitch then rallying late and hanging on to win the first two here), playing a noontime getaway day matinee and playing without resting-regulars Carl Crawford and Dioner Navarro, it was just one of those blips that occur during a long season, and there was still some satisfaction in a 3-3 record for the week.
"We've expended a lot of emotion on this trip," manager Joe Maddon said. "We really have. The games in St. Louis and then the first two games here, being on the road etc., day game, going on home. No excuses, but I think it's been a very emotional trip, and I liked the way we played the entire time. These things happen sometimes."
The other: That it shouldn't have.
"We can win with anybody on the field, any day, doesn't matter what time it is," centerfielder B.J. Upton said. "We'll take it (the .500 record), but we know we should have been better. We let a couple games get away from us."
They have today off, then open a seasonlong 10-game home-stand against three more tough teams in the Orioles, Rangers and AL-Central leading White Sox. The Rays (27-20) remain in second place in the AL East, two games behind Boston.
As much as anything, Wednesday's game was determined by the performance of starting pitchers Andy Sonnanstine and Dana Eveland.
Sonnanstine came into the game having won five straight, and at 6-1 overall was in an unlikely perch among the AL's top winners. He started strong, retiring the first eight.
But a couple of two-out hits and a walk gave Oakland two runs in the third, and he unraveled a bit from there. By the end of six rough innings, Sonnanstine allowed a career-high-matching seven runs on nine hits, including two homers and three doubles.
"I wouldn't say it was any one thing," Sonnanstine said. "That's a tough one to swallow. The first couple innings I felt really good, best I felt in a while. Maybe in the later innings I was overthrowing or something.
"I threw some good pitches and they hit them, and I threw some bad pitches and they hit them."
Maddon insisted Sonnanstine's performance was better than it looked.
"I thought Sonny had really good stuff today," Maddon said. "He did. He was throwing the ball well."
The Rays were stifled (Maddon's word) by Eveland, who was dominating in his first career complete game, improving to 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA at home. He allowed the Rays just three hits: a leadoff single by Akinori Iwamura, a fifth-inning single by Gabe Gross and an eighth-inning homer by Jonny Gomes.
"It's always tough to have success off a guy who's throwing three pitches (fastball, changeup, slider) for strikes that you've never seen before," Gomes said.
Said Maddon: "Today was just one of those days."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]s.com.