ST. PETERSBURG — And now the Rays are on the clock. …
The momentum from last weekend's encouraging end to their road trip is officially gone as they lost a third straight game to the Orioles, 3-1 Thursday, and now face an improving Indians team before a week-long trip to the West Coast.
"It (stinks) right now," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "We all want to win, and we all want to do our part. And when it doesn't work out, it's definitely frustrating. But continue to work and continue to believe things are going to turn around."
The problems Thursday were familiar as the last-place Rays fell to 15-20, the worst record in the American League north of Houston.
Their starter once again didn't last more than five innings. Although in this case, it was their best pitcher, David Price, from whom they expect more.
"They have a good lineup, just like everybody else in the East, and I just didn't make enough pitches," Price said. "I lost, so absolutely it's frustrating."
And their offense was again unproductive — wasting repeated opportunities, leaving 11 men on, going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position with their top hitter, Longoria, failing twice in big situations.
"Just not getting it done. That's the bottom line," Longoria said.
Price wasn't bad, but he wasn't good enough to get even an out in the sixth inning, leaving with the Orioles leading 3-1 and poised for more with the bases loaded and none out.
But manager Joe Maddon went to his new toy, Brad Boxberger, and he again dazzled, ending the threat by striking out the next three Orioles on nine pitches.
Still, it wasn't a very satisfying night for Price, who threw 100 pitches (65 strikes) to get only 15 outs, allowing nine hits, including his major-league most-matching ninth homer, a two-run shot by Steve Pearce that put the Orioles ahead in the second. Price struck out a season-low three and walked just one, his last batter.
Down 3-1, the Rays had chance after chance to catch up.
"We had opportunities all over the place, had the right guys up there. It just did not want to play out for us," Maddon said. "I know we're going to start getting those hits in the right moments."
But not Thursday before a Tropicana Field gathering of 11,076.
In the fifth, they loaded the bases with one out after Ben Zobrist walked, Desmond Jennings reached on an infield single and Matt Joyce was hit by a pitch. But Longoria grounded to short, and the Orioles turned a double play, replay confirming the call on the back end Maddon challenged as Pearce dived for the throw.
In the sixth, they had two on with one out. But Yunel Escobar grounded into a fielder's choice — Wil Myers doing a good job to extend the rundown so the other runners could get to second and third — and Ryan Hanigan, pinch-hitting for Jose Molina, grounded out.
In the seventh, they had two on with one out again. But Longoria went down swinging, and James Loney flied out.
And in the ninth, they had two on and none out, but Maddon eschewed the bunt for concern that lead runner Hanigan would get thrown out at third. Jennings bounced into a double play, and Joyce grounded out.
"It's been real up and down and inconsistent," Longoria said. "The goal right now is to just figure out a way to get through it, figure out a way to, when things aren't going our way, turn it around. Whether it's continuing to grind out at-bats, make plays in the field defensively behind our pitchers and continue to be positive."
The Rays are 0-5 this season against the Orioles, scoring only eight runs.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]