OAKLAND, Calif. — The Rays had done so well on the road, become so comfortable in their routine — win, play loud music, make plans to go out — that the quiet and hushed tones in their clubhouse after Saturday's 4-2 loss to the A's seemed so stark and unusual.
"In a good way, I guess," Evan Longoria said. "We're not used to losing."
In winning 13 of their first 14 road games, and 22 of 29 overall, the Rays had done a lot of things right. So in a way, they looked at Saturday's game as one of those days when things just didn't work out as well.
"We just couldn't get 'er done today," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's not going to happen every night. I still like the battle, and I like the effort."
The starting pitching that had been so good wasn't, as Wade Davis fought his way through five innings to keep the score close but ended with the loss, the first by a starter in more than two weeks, an amazing stretch going back to April 23. It was the fourth loss (against 18 wins) by a starter all season.
"It's pretty frustrating to get the loss right there," Davis said. "Especially because we've been playing so well. You want to go out there and do as well as you can."
Davis wasn't horrible, he just wasn't as sharp as he had been. He allowed two runs in the first, another in the second, six hits and two walks overall while pitching himself out of the game after five by throwing 99 pitches.
"He never really got into any kind of groove," Maddon said. "Nothing really wanted to seem to work for him."
"I just wasn't getting those quick outs," Davis said. "And it cost me a lot of pitches."
And the hitting that had been so timely so often failed them, most obviously in the seventh. Down 3-2, the Rays had a prime opportunity with runners on second and third with one out and two of the AL's top-six hitters with runners in scoring position coming up, and they still couldn't get anything out of it. Or the ball even out of the infield.
"We just couldn't get that clutch hit today," Jason Bartlett said.
Bartlett, who was sixth with a .440 average, had the first shot but grounded to third. John Jaso, breaking on contact, was caught in a rundown and tagged out.
Then Carl Crawford, who'd ranked fourth at .450, went down swinging against lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. Crawford also flied out with two on to kill a second-inning rally after the Rays had tied the score at 2.
"Just one of them days," Crawford said.
The loss put at least a temporary hold on the research quantifying the Rays' record start and, with the Yankees doing nearly as well, put them in jeopardy of falling out of first place, their AL East lead down to a half game.
Only twice have the Rays lost two in a row — and no more than two — so the focus shifted quickly to how they will respond, with unbeaten opening day starter James Shields on the mound in today's matinee series finale.
"The good thing is everyone understands we're going to lose, we can't win every game, but (today) is the real test," Longoria said. "See where we're at resolve-wise."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.