PITTSBURGH — For the second straight night, the Rays' hot-hitting lineup faced a callup from Triple A.
This time, Pirates right-hander Ty Taubenheim kept their bats at bay.
And after their 4-3 loss in 13 innings to Pittsburgh on Saturday, it felt like a game — and opportunity — the Rays let get away.
Leftfielder Jason Bay ended the nearly four-hour game with a two-out homer off Jason Hammel, handing Tampa Bay its first defeat in its past five road games.
"I thought we played a pretty good game; they just (had) the last ups," Jonny Gomes said. "The bullpen did great … (we were) just on the other end of the stick."
After Gomes' heroics in the eighth, when he delivered a tying pinch-hit homer in a 15-pitch at-bat, it appeared Tampa Bay would find another way to claw out a come-from-behind victory; the Rays had won five of their first six extra-inning games this season. But after the dust settled, in a game delayed 42 minutes by rain, the Rays watched an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place slip away. Tampa Bay (48-32) remained a half-game behind Boston as their much-anticipated three-game series at the Trop looms Monday.
Manager Joe Maddon wasn't upset, saying "we've had a great road trip to this point, it's just you're gonna lose some games sometimes. …
"When you win a game like that, it's a tough win. When you lose a game like that, it's a tough loss. A lot of things that transpired in that game could have gone another way, but it didn't. They just beat us in the end."
The Rays appeared to be ready to pounce early on Taubenheim, who was making his season debut. B.J. Upton, in his new leadoff role, and Carl Crawford each delivered first-pitch singles.
But Taubenheim, as he did for most of the night, minimized the damage, with Tampa Bay settling for just a sacrifice fly from Evan Longoria. Jason Bartlett led off the fifth with a double, but he was stranded.
Rays starter Edwin Jackson did some damage control of his own, stranding a runner on third in the second.
Then Taubenheim helped his own cause, ripping a ground-rule double past a drawn-in Crawford in the fifth, scoring Jose Bautista from third to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Jackson tried to follow suit in the sixth, but with runners on first and third with two out, the 24-year-old right-hander grounded out to end the threat.
The second-biggest Pirates (38-42) hit came in the seventh, when, with two outs, Doug Mientkiewicz delivered a pinch-hit RBI double off Jackson, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
After Gomes' homer in the eighth, it became a battle of the bullpens, as the Rays used four relievers. Gary Glover pitched three scoreless innings in what Maddon said was probably "his best performance of the year."
Tampa Bay didn't get a hit after the ninth, setting up Bay's big blast. Hammel said he wanted to throw a fastball low and away, but it hit the middle of the plate.
"Just not a good pitch right there," Hammel said. "Obviously he was sitting on it, and he got it. Ball game over."