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Rays' offense continues to struggle

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) after flying out in the ninth inning during the New York Yankees at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 17, 2014. The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4 - 2.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) after flying out in the ninth inning during the New York Yankees at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 17, 2014. The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4 - 2.

ST. PETERSBURG — Although manager Joe Maddon and starter Jeremy Hellickson both pointed to Hellickson's two-out walk in the fifth as a game-changing moment, the Rays' offense didn't give him much help Sunday.

The Rays had only six baserunners all game and mustered one hit off the Yankees' bullpen.

"We have to figure out … a way to score more runs on a consistent basis," Maddon said, "because the pitching's been kind of like lights out."

The Rays managed only seven wins out of their 12-game streak of allowing fewer than four runs. Four of those losses were 3-2 defeats; the other was a 3-0 shutout.

"You'd like to go a little bit more than that when you have that kind of run going on," Maddon said.

DOME AWAY FROM HOME: Although New York will return to Tropicana Field from Sept. 15-17, retiring Yankees great Derek Jeter's farewell tour featured more cheers this weekend.

Jeter received a standing ovation from much of the crowd before his first and final at-bats in Sunday's game. After singling in the go-ahead run Saturday night, he told Yankees reporters that "it's almost like a home game."

Maddon said after Saturday's loss that he appreciated fans' gestures toward Jeter. But he asked for more vocal support from Rays fans and said he wouldn't "sit here and defend all of that noise in the Yankees' favor in our ballpark."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters that he thought it was the first time he has heard Jeter's name chanted that loudly in an opposing stadium.

Jeter started at DH Sunday and finished 1-for-4.

With Sunday's crowd of 28,812, the three-game series drew a combined paid attendance of 86,389. That's the largest at Tropicana Field since Aug. 23-25 of last year — also against the Yankees.

DEFENSIVE ISSUES: The Rays committed two errors Sunday.

The first came when 3B Evan Longoria's throw to first sailed past James Loney to put Jeter on base in the first. The second happened after 2B Ben Zobrist and SS Yunel Escobar collided in shallow centerfield on Brian McCann's shallow popup in the eighth. Escobar nearly had another, throwing a ball toward the dugout in the ninth, but Martin Prado didn't advance after his single.

Those miscues came a day after Logan Forsythe made a costly throwing error in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees.

"Overall we've been actually playing really well (defensively) …" Maddon said. "Our guys, I don't want to say they're pressing. They're just playing so hard to get it done."

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Wil Myers homered and walked, going 1-for-4 as he continued his rehab assignment as DH for Triple-A Durham.

Maddon said Myers' timing continues to improve and that the Rays would know more about his status Sunday night. If all goes well, Myers could return for the Tigers series or for the road trip to Toronto.

"He's getting pretty close," Maddon said.

OF David DeJesus' hand was sore Sunday, a day after playing his first rehab game as DH for the Gulf Coast League Rays. He was back at Tropicana Field for a scheduled day off but had his next rehab work pushed back. Instead of playing for Class A Charlotte today, he will take another day off and hit Tuesday before resuming his rehab assignment Wednesday.

MISCELLANY: RHP Kirby Yates threw a perfect seventh inning. It was his sixth consecutive scoreless appearance; he has nine strikeouts while allowing only two baserunners in that span. … Longoria's two RBIs gave him 76 in his career against the Yankees. That's the most of any opponent since his rookie season (2008).

Rays' offense continues to struggle 08/17/14 [Last modified: Sunday, August 17, 2014 8:29pm]
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