BALTIMORE — With three quick runs in the top of the first and Matt Moore taking a perfect game into the fifth, Friday looked to be the first night in a while when things would go right for Rays.
But then they turned out horribly wrong anyway.
The 6-3 loss to the AL East-leading Orioles was the struggling Rays' eighth straight, their longest skid since losing 10 in a row in 2014, dropping them to 31-40 and 10½ games back.
"Another tough one," Rays manager Kevin Cash. "They're all frustrating. Whether you lose 'em early or a game gets away from you, they're all frustrating."
So how did this one get away?
Just a few bad pitches, some head-scratching defense and bats gone quiet.
Start in the sixth inning, as the Orioles scored four to turn around a 3-1 deficit.
First Adam Jones, robbed earlier by leftfielder Taylor Motter, crushed a ball deep into the seats on a fastball Moore said he shouldn't have thrown in a situation where he could have been less aggressive.
Moore then gave up singles to Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado, and lost a nine-pitch battle with Mark Trumbo, who fouled off three to draw a bases-loading walk.
That set up the pivotal moment. Chris Davis jumped on the next pitch to deliver a hard single to right-center that would have scored two but was made worse as Trumbo also came in when Logan Forsythe's relay got past catcher Hank Conger and Moore wasn't backing up the plate.
"That's when it kind of unraveled," Cash said. "We had a lot of moving pieces going everywhere, balls were going everywhere. We ended up giving them all the runs that were on base."
Moore took most of the blame, for the pitch to Davis and for not backing up the play, something he acknowledged you learn in rookie ball.
"It was a long at-bat to Trumbo and then to go back up there and kind of let the ball leak over the plate a little bit to Davis," he said. "And then obviously me not backing up the bag, it (stunk). It was an extra run right there."
But you could also look to the fifth, when Moore's smooth-rolling bid for perfection after 13 straight outs ended somewhat frustratingly, on a Davis fly ball down the leftfield line that Motter couldn't catch and fell in for a double. J.J. Hardy's two-out single got Baltimore a run and some momentum.
"The wind is so swirly out there, and it just kept going and going," Motter said. "I think my play opened up that inning, which stinks."
Or you could even look to the first, when the Rays scored the three runs, on a homer by Corey Dickerson, who was moved into the No. 2 spot, and a Logan Morrison single, but no more despite having the first five reach and totaling four hits and two walks. Desmond Jennings grounding into a double play was the rally killer.
Plus, by letting Gallardo escape, not only did he get into a rhythm in working 51/3 but the Rays lost the chance to force the Orioles go deep into their bullpen, which would have paid dividends today as they play a day-night doubleheader as part of a four-games-in-45-hours weekend.
Steve Geltz allowed a homer for the final run, then was sent to Triple A.
Moore pitched better, especially sharp with his fastball, than his final line showed, allowing five runs on seven hits over 62/3 innings. "There were a lot of good things and some pretty poor things," Moore said.