ST. PETERSBURG — One power outage delayed the start of Tuesday's game 20 minutes. The other continued throughout the night.
A lack of production doomed the Rays again in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers that by the look and sound of their clubhouse afterward clearly stung.
"This is the kind of game when you're going to the playoffs you win, and when you're not, you don't," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to start winning these games to go to the playoffs. You have to win 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 games — I've always said this — to win championships. You've got to."
The Rays' offensive ineptness can be defined in several ways.
That they got 11 hits but only one, in eight chances, with a runner in scoring position. That they left a season-high-tying 12 men on base. And that they forced the Tigers to throw 170 pitches and couldn't do more.
"We saw over 160 pitches, and you only score one run — that's very, very difficult to do actually, but we did," Maddon said. "We just have to be able to move the ball better with runners in scoring position and get that big hit; that's what's holding us back."
The loss, the second straight to the AL Central-leading Tigers, dropped the Rays to 69-58 and 8½ from a playoff spot with 35 games remaining as the Red Sox moved into a first-place tie with the Yankees.
"Overall, pretty frustrating," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "We've been doing a pretty good job of getting the hits when we need to, and tonight was just not one of those nights. We squandered a few opportunities, and obviously you're going to be frustrated after something like that."
The 20-minute delay was due to weather-related issues with a power line that knocked out the stadium lights.
Once they got started, the Rays looked like they headed the right direction, taking a 1-0 lead in the third, flashing leather all around the field and getting a strong six innings from David Price.
But the game turned in the seventh. The Tigers had three hits, plus a fielder's choice grounder and a sac fly, but the key moment was a wild pitch by Price, on an 0-and-2 offering to Al Avila that glanced off catcher Kelly Shoppach's glove, allowing the runners to move up to second and third. Making it worse, Avila followed with an RBI single and Jhonny Peralta with a sac fly.
"Probably the biggest moment in that game in a negative way for us," Maddon said.
Price said it was a fastball, and with Shoppach set up inside and the ball sailing outside, obviously misdirected. "I threw a fastball, and it went away; it went to the backstop," Price said.
The Rays had men on base in all but one inning against starter Brad Penny and three middle relievers, as the Tigers were resting setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.
Among their more glaring failures: Longoria flying to center when they loaded the bases in the seventh right after the Tigers took the lead. Matt Joyce grounding to second with runners on second and third in the third. And the game ending with Longoria on second and Johnny Damon on third, after Damon's two-out, two-strike double in the ninth and a wild pitch, as Ben Zobrist, after a 10-pitch at-bat, grounded to first.
"That game was ours to take right there," Maddon said. "We had opportunities at the right time with the right guys, and it just did not work out."