ST. PETERSBURG — The game got away from the Rays in the late innings thanks in part to Erasmo Ramirez, who served up a couple of home runs that produced three runs, so maybe a hit or two in the fifth inning by Tampa Bay wouldn't have mattered.
But it doesn't hurt to wonder, does it?
The Rays had runners at second and third with no outs in a tie game during the fifth, but the next three batters failed to put the ball in play. Strikeout. Strikeout. Strikeout.
That Ramirez and Ryan Garton combined to allow five runs made that lost opportunity a footnote in a 6-2 loss Friday to the Twins in a game between two teams going nowhere except to the top of next year's draft board.
"At this level I feel like anytime you get a crack at it like that, you've got be able to execute," said catcher Luke Maile, who struck out for the first out of the fifth. "For me to go down on strikes right there can't happen. It can't happen often, but it did."
The Rays (44-64) allowed more than three runs for the first time in 11 games. They need to win one of the remaining two games of this series to clinch their first winning homestand of the season.
The Twins (44-65) have won seven of their past nine games.
The meltdown by Ramirez followed another solid outing from rookie Blake Snell, who allowed one run in 51/3 innings. It was the fifth consecutive start in which Snell allowed two or fewer runs.
Ramirez, who allowed a two-run pinch-hit homer to Eddie Rosario in the seventh, took his ninth loss — the most among American League relievers.
Brad Miller homered to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. It was his third home run in as many games and his fifth on the homestand.
It was a 1-1 game when Steven Souza Jr. ended Twins starter Ervin Santana's run of 10 straight outs when he was struck by a pitch to lead off the fifth. Tim Beckham followed with the first of his two doubles. That put runners on second and third with no outs for Maile and then the top of the order.
But Maile, Logan Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier struck out.
"We have to move the ball there," manager Kevin Cash said.
Maile has seven hits since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on July 15. Four of them have come with runners in scoring position.
Forsythe's single to lead off the third marked the 11th time in his past 16 plate appearances he reached base.
Kiermaier had reached base in eight of his 17 plate appearances since moving to the No. 2 spot in the order Tuesday.
"We had them right where we needed them," Maile said. "We had a couple of really good at-bats to start off the inning. I didn't come through."
He wasn't the only one.
"Yeah," he said, "but I didn't set the tone."