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. 2-year-old girl shows football team how its done


    ST. PETERSBURG — Football players may dread summer workouts, but not two-year-old Sophie Rosendale. She loves joining her father, St. Petersburg offensive line coach Mike Rosendale, three times a week for the Green Devils summer conditioning. Not only does she shout encouragement like her dad, she also straps on …

    Sophie Rosendale, 2, front, warms up with offensive lineman during practice at St. Petersburg High School, Wednesday. Rosendale is the daughter of offensive line coach Mike Rosendale. "She has been coming to practice for about one year," said Rosendale who has been a coach at the the school for 10 seasons. "She likes to show the players the proper techniques." [Photo/  Mike Rosendale]
  2. Rays add another piece to bullpen, acquiring RHP Steve Cishek for Erasmo Ramirez


    The Rays made another deal to change the look of their bullpen, acquiring RHP Steve Cishek from the Mariners for RHP Erasmo Ramirez.

    Cishek, 31, has a 3,15 ERA and .183 opponents average in 23 games for the Mariners this season after returning in mid-May from October hip surgery, and after allowing three runs …

    Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games for the Mariners this season after returning in mid-May from off-season hip surgery.
  3. Why don't defensive players get more Heisman Trophy love?


    In a story we posted online earlier today (and coming to your doorstep in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times), I made my case for why Florida State safety Derwin James should be a preseason …

    Boston College defensive end Harold Landry didn't get any Heisman love last year, despite leading the country in sacks.
  4. On the defensive: Heisman history not in Derwin James' favor


    The lowdown on Derwin James? "No offense to (Michigan's Jabrill) Peppers (a Heisman finalist last year)," ESPN analyst Rex Ryan says, "but he only wished he was the player this kid was." (Monica Herndon, Times)