CLEVELAND — The Rays' curse in Cleveland continues.
Throughout its 18-game losing streak at Progressive Field, which dates to Sept. 28, 2005, Tampa Bay has been defeated in many different ways. The Indians have blown the Rays out, shut them out and even pulled one out after trailing by 10 runs.
Then came Friday night, as storms ended a 3-1 Rays loss after 61/2 innings and just before midnight. The game was delayed twice, the first time for 90 minutes after the fifth. But it just delayed the inevitable as the last-place Indians shut down the Rays (57-38).
"You can't really count tonight," Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton said. "There are still two innings of baseball left. We've been known to score some runs late."
Tampa Bay mustered just one hit, an infield single by Reid Brignac in the third, and was held to two runs or fewer for the 12th time during the losing streak. More important, the Rays fell four games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East, their largest deficit of the season.
Besides the dark clouds overhead, the Rays' night got off to an ominous start. Indians rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo robbed the game's first batter, Ben Zobrist, of extra bases with a running catch before slamming into the wall. And the Indians struck first in the bottom half with Carlos Santana knocking in a run on a fielder's choice.
But the Rays caught a break in the second, when Carlos Peña reached on an error by second baseman Jason Donald. Peña stole second, advancing to third on a throwing error by Santana. He then scored on a John Jaso groundout.
Choo did some more damage in the third, knocking in the go-ahead run with a groundout to second base.
The Rays couldn't get much going offensively against Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona.
Upton said Carmona had his, "good stuff. … I think everybody recognized that."
Jeff Niemann (8-3) pitched well, too, giving up just two runs and five hits after five innings. He was pulled, after just 83 pitches, due to the first delay, and picked up another hard-luck loss. In Niemann's past two losses, the Rays have combined for just one hit.
The other loss came June 25, when the Diamondbacks' Edwin Jackson no-hit the Rays. In the four starts in between, he went 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA.
Niemann was relieved by Dan Wheeler, who gave up a solo homer by Trevor Crowe with two outs in the sixth.
The teams played just 36 minutes before the game was delayed again, this time for good. The total delay was 2 hours, 44 minutes.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he believed calling the game was the right decision but just wished his team had a few more cracks.
"We had a chance to come back," he said. "But the weather would not cooperate."