Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays rally comes up short against Astros

ST. PETERSBURG — The scene was set for a letdown Friday night.

The Rays, coming off an emotional, three-game sweep of the best-in-the-majors Cubs in front of near-sellout crowds, hosted an Astros club that had lost eight straight.

With the Rays' recent stretch of facing several first-place teams, Houston (34-40) became the first opponent to begin a series at the Trop under .500 since the Yankees on April 14.

The dome went from frenzied to half full, and Tampa Bay's defense dropped off a bit as well in a 4-3 loss in front of a subdued crowd of 14,171, more than 20,000 less than the night before.

But after the Rays (43-30) scored a run apiece in the last two innings to make it interesting, manager Joe Maddon felt it was more Astros ace Roy Oswalt shutting them down than his team letting down from its spectacular sweep.

Oswalt kept the Rays off balance with his off-speed command, giving up just two earned runs in 7⅔ innings; Tampa Bay remains 1½ games behind Boston in the AL East.

"It's contingent on pitching — if their guy wasn't that good tonight, I'm sure we would have been able to maintain our apparent intensity," Maddon said. "You always look at the pitching when the game begins and that pretty much sets the tone. …We just couldn't break through on him tonight."

To Maddon, the Rays pitched well enough to win. For his second straight start, Matt Garza (5-4) was in control of his pitches — and his emotions. "I'm taking baby steps every day," he said. The 24-year-old right-hander kept his composure in the first, when the Astros scored two with two outs. Miguel Tejada started it with a hit, Lance Berkman walked and Carlos Lee doubled them in.

Garza had strong command, striking out eight and walking two in six innings. But the Astros got well-placed hits at the right times.

"I thought he threw exceptionally well," Maddon said. "The last two games I've been really pleased — it's all about the process, and the process was really good today. … How he went about his business was exactly what we're looking for."

The Rays bats were relatively silent. Eric Hinske delivered RBI singles in the first and eighth. The best chance to crack Oswalt (6-7) was in the eighth, when the Rays had runners on first and second and two out for Cliff Floyd. But Doug Brocail replaced Oswalt, and Floyd grounded out to first.

"Those guys have been playing really well and they've been hitting the ball well," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said of the Rays. "But good pitching always stops good hitting."

The Rays defense, which has sparkled during their run, had a few hiccups for their first two-error game since June 8. Rookie third baseman Evan Lon­goria couldn't corral a Tejada grounder in the fifth. And in the eighth, Hinske's fielding error in right allowed Lee to advance to third after a double.

"I love the idea that the expectation level has been so high," Maddon said. "We don't want to make those mistakes, we don't expect to make those mistakes, we don't like making those mistakes. By (today), I'm sure they'll be flushed out of our system and we'll be fine."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Astros 4

Rays 3

Rays rally comes up short against Astros 06/20/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2008 3:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]