ST. PETERSBURG — Aside from the admittedly annoying — and extremely costly — leadoff walk in the 13th inning, Lance Cormier didn't really do much wrong in the 2-1 loss to the Twins.
There wasn't much he could do about the ensuing single by Joe Mauer that second baseman Reid Brignac is still trying to figure out how he missed. And the curveball Delmon Young hit to knock in the decisive run was a pretty good one.
It was a couple of hours before Wednesday's game that Cormier made what might have been the most costly decision. Having gone two weeks since his last appearance, he wanted to regain his feel for having a hitter at the plate and insisted in throwing a 30-pitch bullpen session, even though pitching coach Jim Hickey cautioned he may get used.
And not only did he get into the game, but with Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano getting the night off no matter what (and Friday starter Matt Garza warming up to be next), the Rays needed Cormier to go long. And by his fourth inning, it turned out to be too much.
"Of course that's just how the game is, that's how everything plays out," Cormier said. "And I got up (to warm up) a couple times. I just actually ran out of gas."
The unfortunate ending capped what turned out to be a wasted Wednesday for the Rays.
A handful of scoring opportunities were unused. A strong start by David Price went for naught. The momentum of the tying ninth-inning rally was wiped out.
And by the end of the long night, the one-game AL East lead they had worked so hard for was gone. And they didn't have much time to get over it, with a 12:10 matinee series finale today before heading to Toronto.
The Rays dropped to 67-40 — albeit still best in the majors — and into a first-place tie with the Yankees, who beat the Blue Jays and are off today before opening a four-game series with the Red Sox, who are 6½ back.
Manager Joe Maddon insisted Cormier — who had two of his previous three appearances, July 16 and July 20, end in losses — wasn't to blame.
"He did a great job, he threw 59 pitches, had not pitched in a while, was very sharp and gave us so many different chances to win that game," Maddon said. "When you lose a game like that in 13 innings, you've had a ton of opportunities. And we just did not take advantage."
Neither team did, actually, as they combined for a pathetic 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position.
For most of the night, the only run the Twins scored off Price — who was seeking a team-record 15th win — looked like it would be enough, Danny Valencia singling with two outs in the second and Jason Repko doubling.
Otherwise, Price was dominant, allowing five hits, striking out seven, walking two and throwing a season-high-matching 119 pitches (and only 36 balls).
What more could he have done? "I could have thrown a shutout," he said.
The Rays were shut out for eight innings by Twins starter Scott Baker, and shut down with only three hits. They finally broke through against Matt Capps in the ninth.
Evan Longoria, immersed in a 9-for-53 slump, started the rally innocently: a blooper to shallow left-center that Young botched then booted into a double. He went to third on a flyout then scored on a single by Dan Johnson.
Cormier said the one thing he kept telling himself was to make Alexi Casilla hit his way on to open the 13th, but instead walked him. "That was the most annoying thing," Cormier said.
Mauer grounded a ball to the right side that somehow ticked off Brignac's glove. "I get that ball nine out of 10 times," he said. "I thought I had it." Then Young singled through the drawn-in infield.
"I just ran out of gas," Cormier said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.