ST. PETERSBURG — Rays third baseman Evan Longoria had entered the past two games at Tropicana Field in a groove offensively, saying he couldn't have felt more comfortable.
After all, his 20 homers after the All-Star break were among the best in the majors, and that included the historic wild-card clinching walkoff blast against the Yankees last week.
But Longoria and the rest of the lineup was shut down by the Rangers in the Rays' past two losses, continuing their perplexing seasonlong struggles at the Trop.
Longoria was 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in Games 3 and 4 of the American League Division Series and his only hit in the final three games was a three-run homer in Game 2.
The three-time All-Star wasn't alone, as the Rays 2-3-4 hitters went a combined 1-for-20 with 11 strikeouts in the past two.
"In the end, it really came down to us offensively not doing anything," Longoria said. "It's tough when, the whole year, we've really struggled to score runs at home. … I don't mind taking the blame for it. I expect to play better in situations like this. But (Tuesday), it just wasn't meant to be."
Longoria and centerfielder B.J. Upton, each of whom had a hot September, continued by going 7-for-17 in Games 1 and 2 in Texas as the Rays racked up 15 runs. But the duo was 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts in the next two, and the team mustered six runs.
"I just didn't hit the ball," Longoria said. "They pitched well. You hear the phrase, 'good pitching beats good hitting' all the time. Well, they made their pitches when they needed to. I don't really feel like there's anything that myself or anybody in this clubhouse has to hang their heads about. We all did our preparation and we all went out there as ready as we could be. Sometimes you get beat."
On Monday, Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis handcuffed the Rays, holding them to one hit through six innings to pick up his fourth postseason victory. Left-hander Matt Harrison followed suit Tuesday, tying a career high with nine strikeouts in just five innings.
"It seems like they were hitting their spots, in and out, up and down," said designated hitter Johnny Damon, who was 1-for-8 the past two games. "They weren't leaving much stuff over the middle of the plate. That's why they were successful and why they've been able to shut us down the past couple games."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.