HOUSTON — Just when you thought it was safe to watch the Rays again …
Handed a lead on Mikie Mahtook's ninth-inning homer, All-Star closer Alex Colome gave up back-to-back blasts in the bottom of the ninth Friday, turning what looked to be an inspiring win into a staggering 5-4 defeat to the Astros.
"Obviously a tough loss,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of quick change emotions right there.''
The Rays (54-73) battled back from an early 3-0 hole caused by some messy play to get even, thanks primarily to three doubles by Corey Dickerson (one shy of the team record) and a pair of run-scoring wild pitches by Astros starter Mike Fiers.
Then they took the lead in the top of the ninth when Mahtook, who snapped an 0-for-34 streak Thursday with a run-scoring double, delivered an even bigger hit with a blast to left estimated at 424 feet.
But Colome, who had blown only one save in 29 chances, failed them miserably, allowing a first-pitch homer to Carlos Correa then another on a full-count pitch to Evan Gattis.
"I felt normal, like every day,'' Colome said. "I was throwing up, missing up. Bad location. I need to throw down.''
The outcome was similar to Colome's only other blown save on July 23 at Oakland, when he allowed two ninth inning homers, a batter apart, to Jake Smolinski and Ryon Healy.
"Nothing to do about it,'' Colome said. "Be ready for tomorrow.''
After a rough first, LHP Drew Smyly settled in to work six innings, retiring his last 14.
"I guess I was just nibbling a little bit,'' Smyly said. "Just missing. Got behind in the count. Made it hard on myself. But I was happy to get out of the first with just two runs. My pitch count was up, so in my head I was just thinking attack, go right at them and see how long you can last."
The Rays made some costly mistakes. An error by 1B Brad Miller on a pickoff and then a casual return throw led to the Astros' second run. And Mahtook made a baserunning mistake in the third when he was thrown out trying to stretch a leadoff double down 3-0.
Cash said their baserunning continues to be a major problem.
FRANKLIN RETURN: INF/OF Nick Franklin will rejoin the team today, activated from the seven-day concussion DL. Franklin showed he was ready, going 3-for-4 while playing second base and then leftfield for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs. RHP Tyler Sturdevant was optioned back to Triple-A Durham to make room.
COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb takes what is slated to be the last step in his extended rehab from May 2015 Tommy John elbow surgery tonight when he starts for Durham, with plans to rejoin the Rays next week and start against Toronto on Sept. 2 or 3.
Cobb has, for the most part, been feeling good but pitching badly in his seven starts, 0-3, 7.64 and not working more than four innings. While he won't go any deeper tonight (four innings or 60 pitches), given that he is pitching on four days' rest rather than the five he has been getting, he is hoping to do better, with some specific goals in mind.
"Get some clean innings, go out there and not work so hard," Cobb said. "Locate pitches. Have pitch execution in mind and do it, and don't think about the process that it takes to do it. And just walk off the mound and feel relieved you're able to get that call back (to the majors)."
TO THE MATT: Rays players and coaches were thrilled to see former teammate Matt Moore take a no-hitter two outs deep into the ninth inning Thursday night for his new Giants team, and agonized with him over losing it when Dodgers rookie Corey Seager singled.
Several stayed up — and RHP Jake Odorizzi even was awakened by a text from RHP Chris Archer — to watch Moore, and texted with him on Friday to commiserate.
"It was exciting, really exciting," Odorizzi said. "There were some great plays behind him, some long at-bats. Obviously it was make or break at that point, at 130 pitches. It's heartbreaking to have it happen right there at the end, that's for sure. I felt bad for him."
ENNY MOMENT: Not only did LHP Enny Romero get the final out of Thursday's game, in first knocking down and then getting Red Sox DH David Ortiz looking at strike three, he might have gained some major confidence for the future.
"Having success like that, getting that of a hitter (out), you would think that there would be something you would grow from in there," Cash said.
"Maybe that's what Enny is. He's got the big fastball, he comes in and gets the big lefty out - you pick the spot in the game. I'm very happy for him. He's had some trying times this year. It was great to see how his teammates kind of responded."
MISCELLANY: OF Steven Souza Jr. got the day off Friday, with Mahtook in rightfield. … RHP Dylan Floro, who pitched relatively well (0-1, 4.20) in 12 games for the Rays, was placed on DL at Durham due to arm soreness.