ARLINGTON, Texas — Manager Joe Maddon noted before Friday's game that the Rays "did a lot of memorable things last year" at Rangers Ballpark.
There was Matt Garza's heated exchange with catcher Dioner Navarro. There was Maddon making the unconventional moves of intentionally walking Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded and pulling B.J. Upton from the field for lack of hustle.
The most memorable aspects of the Rays' 3-1 loss to the Rangers on Friday in front of 39,123 were two errors and the lack of offense generated by the majors' highest-scoring team. Tampa Bay matched a season low with three hits and has scored just one run in its past two games, losing to a rookie starter both times.
"We did not have a good game," Maddon said. "We made mistakes, could not come up with the clutch hit. But more about the mistakes; we just did not have a good night."
The Rays (44-37) have lost two straight following a season-high seven-game winning streak. But with a Red Sox loss Friday, they're still just five games out of first in the American League East.
Having reached the midway point of the season, Maddon said he likes where the Rays are at, specifically their pitching, which has been "outstanding" recently. But he noted that their defense, so sparkling in their World Series run, "has been prone to more mistakes."
Two mistakes led to left-hander Scott Kazmir's first loss to the Rangers in eight starts (4-1). Kazmir, making his second start since coming off the disabled list, said he felt good after another strong outing, in which he gave up one earned run in five innings. He struck out six, walked one and threw 63 of his 99 pitches for strikes.
Maddon said he thought Kazmir threw the ball really well, noting his fastball command.
But Texas (43-35) scored two in the fourth on a rally started when Andruw Jones reached on a rare error by shortstop Jason Bartlett.
Bartlett made a good play in the hole on a sharp grounder, but his throw sailed to the right of Carlos Peña at first, advancing Jones to second. The next batter, Hank Blalock, ripped a hanging slider for a two-run homer to make it 2-0.
"One pitch cost us the game," Kazmir said. "You don't throw that pitch to Blalock, anything that's hanging, anything that's up. That's where he likes it."
B.J. Upton's single in the fifth cut the Rays' deficit to 2-1. With runners on second and third and two out, second baseman Ian Kinsler robbed Carl Crawford of a base hit, and potentially two RBIs, with a diving catch to his left. "We got some hits that went right at people that probably could have changed the game," Crawford said.
The Rangers scored another in the fifth after a Ben Zobrist throwing error put a runner on second, leading to a Marlon Byrd RBI double.
Maddon said Rangers rookie starter Tommy Hunter was deceptive and they had a hard time picking up his pitches.
As a result, Hunter picked up his first big-league win, on his 23rd birthday.