ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was the right decision.
Cobb thought so, too.
"Absolutely no doubt in my mind that I should go back out there," Cobb said, "and fortunately Cash has a lot of faith in me."
That Cobb was talking in a corner of a quiet clubhouse meant the decision did not work out for the Rays.
Cobb allowed a leadoff double, then a two-run homer as the Rangers tied the score before winning 4-3 in 10 innings.
"I don't know how else to put it other than that kind of stunk," Cash said.
It was only the third loss in the past 10 games for the Rays (51-46) and the first time they lost back-to-back games since June 28-29 in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers (46-50) snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the only the fourth time in 44 games this season when trailing after eight innings.
The winning run scored with two outs in the 10th when Elvis Andrus, who homered in the first inning, drove home pinch-runner Delino DeShields from third with a hard smash down the third-base line that Evan Longoria stopped after diving. Longoria, however, could not get enough on the throw to get Andrus at first.
Shin-Soo Choo, who hit the tying home run in the ninth, was walked ahead of Andrus to set up a force in the infield. Cash said he made that call because he liked Brad Boxberger pitching to the right-handed hitting Andrus with a chance for a forceout over facing the left-handed Choo.
That was a curious move, since Andrus is a career .320 hitter against the Rays.
But the move most will be talking about from this game was sending Cobb back out for the ninth. It's rare that a Rays starter gets a chance to finish what he started.
The last complete game from a member of the rotation was May 14, 2016, when Matt Andriese tossed one against the visiting A's.
Cobb appeared to have a chance at a complete game during the series in Pittsburgh when he held the Pirates to a pair of hits over eight scoreless innings. But with Cobb's pitch count at 98, Cash went with Alex Colome, who quickly blew the save.
Cobb threw 96 pitches through eight innings Friday. He allowed only three hits to that point, and only one after the fourth inning. At one point, he retired 11 straight.
He was staked to a 3-1 lead on the strength of solo home runs by Brad Miller, Corey Dickerson and Mallex Smith, all off Yu Darvish.
"I feel bad," Cobb said. "There's going to be a lot of blame on (Cash) for sure, but that is completely unfair. I feel like I should be able to do a better job of making him look like he made the right decision there."
Joey Gallo lined the second pitch of the ninth inning into the right-centerfield gap.
Cash said he was confident Cobb would retired Choo. Then he probably would have called for Colome.
But Choo then lined a hanging changeup into the leftfield seats to tie the score at 3.
Cobb said his changeup had been working all night. He didn't execute that one, though, and it cost him and his teammates.
"It was coming to me good throughout the game and I envisioned throwing it down and away and him rolling over it and getting a quick out," Cobb said. "It stayed up and he hit it well."
It was Cobb's 99th and final pitch of the night.
"That was probably the most upsetting I've been walking off the mound in a long time," Cobb said, "but I was given an opportunity there by Cash to go shut the door, and I just didn't execute a few pitches in a row and it turned south quick."