OAKLAND, Calif. — Drew Smyly, finally, gave the Rays a good start. And then Alex Colome, finally, turned in a bad ending.
After Smyly pitched well enough for his first win since mid May and Matt Andriese worked two strong innings, Colome made a mess in the ninth as the Rays walked off losers to the A's for the second straight night, this time 4-3.
Colome got off to a bad start, walking Khris Davis. With one out, he allowed a two-run homer on a fat first-pitch fastball to Jake Smolinski. After a second out, he gave up another homer on a fastball to Ryon Healy.
"Bad day,'' Colome said. "I tried to throw like (I do) every day, throw a strike.''
It was the first save Colome has blown this season, having recorded 21 straight, earning selection to the American League All-Star team along the way. He had allowed only one homer to right-handed batters in 80 plate appearances, then allow two in a three-batter span.
"Completely uncharacteristic of him, because he's been outstanding for us all year,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "A little bit of a head scratcher as far as you just don't see him get barreled up like that, and he did.''
As frustrated as Smyly would get over his extended struggles, as defeated and disinterested as he would look at times on the mound, as clipped as his postgame quotes sounded, Smyly insisted he remained confident he still had the ability to be a successful pitcher.
And Saturday night, he showed it.
Smyly worked six innings, allowing one run on six hits while walking only one. Though his winless streak was extended to 11 starts, he put an end to an ugly run of allowing five-plus runs in four straight starts.
"It feels great to get good results,'' Smyly said. "To leave the game with a lead, knowing your team's in it, it's got a good chance to win. It didn't work out for us tonight, it's unfortunate. ….
"This game doesn't come easy for any of us. You've got to keep grinding. It's one to build off of. This game can take a toll on you when you get the wrong results so anytime you pitch well, you perform well you've got to keep that, learn from it almost, and take it with you the next start.''
Smyly initially looked to be headed to another bad start when he allowed a one-out single in the first, then a walk and another single to fall behind 1-0, but got out of that inning and didn't allow anything else.
"Really happy with Drew Smyly's performance. He needed that, we needed that,'' Cash said.
"I thought it showed a lot about him to give up the early run and not kind of falter or cave there. He kept battling, making some really good pitches and got on a nice little stretch there where he got efficient and the call was coming out of his hand good.''
The biggest difference was the effectiveness of his off-speed pitchers, particularly his cutter. During his struggles, he relied too much on his fastball and got hit hard and often.
The stunning loss dropped the Rays to 4-5 since the All-Star break and 38-59 overall. Until the end, it looked like they had scratched out enough offense against Oakland start Kendall Graveman.
In the second, a still-hot Corey Dickerson doubled and scored on a single by Oswaldo Arcia. In the fourth, trade candidate Steve Pearce singled, went to third on a double by Arcia (who would leave the game with a mild right elbow strain) and scored on Brandon Guyer's groundout. And in the seventh, Kevin Kiermaier drew a two-out walk and came around on singles by Curt Casali and Logan Forsythe.
Cash pulled Smyly after six innings, even though he thrown only 88 pitches, acknowledging the significance of making sure he left on a positive note.
"That was outstanding what he did,'' Cash said. "Wanted Andriese to get in there but at the same time I think that's something Drew can really build off of, get him feeling good. Because he should feel really food about the way he threw the ball today.''
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays