SEATTLE — The Rays knew their winning streak was going to end sometime.
Just not like this.
For much of Tuesday night they looked as if they had done just enough right to extend their season-high streak to eight. Then first baseman Carlos Peña did something wrong, and they ended up losing 3-2 to the Mariners.
The Rays were working to close out a 2-1 lead in the ninth when, after a Kyle Seager leadoff single, Peña fielded a Chone Figgins bunt, double-clutched on an easy throw to first and tossed the ball down the rightfield line.
"That's a play Carlos makes 100 out of 100 times," manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know exactly what happened. It was very routine."
That left the Mariners with the tying run on third and the winning run on second with no outs. A sac fly by Justin Smoak delivered the tying run. Then after Fernando Rodney struck out Miguel Olivo with the Rays in a five-man infield formation, Eric Thames slapped a two-strike single just over the reach of second baseman Sean Rodriguez for the winner.
Rodney had converted 22 straight saves and was seeking his major league-leading 38th.
The loss dropped the Rays to 63-53. It was their first loss since the return of Evan Longoria.
Matt Moore worked seven strong innings, allowing just the one run on six hits and a walk and striking out nine. More impressively, of the 95 pitches he threw, only 25 were balls.
After the Rays took a 2-0 lead in the first and the Mariners halved it in the second, much of the next few hours, on an otherwise pleasant Northwest night, was played with two recurring themes: The Rays wasting repeated chances to add on against Kevin Millwood, who had one win in his past 13 starts, and the Mariners hitting Moore hard with nothing to show for it.
In the third, Desmond Jennings singled with one out and stole second with two but was stranded when Matt Joyce struck out. In the fourth, Jeff Keppinger doubled with two outs and Peña walked but Ryan Roberts struck out. In the fifth, Jennings and B.J. Upton singled with one out, but Joyce and Longoria struck out. In the seventh, Roberts and Jose Molina singled, but Jennings grounded into a double play (with only his speed saving them from a triple play) and Upton tapped out.
Longoria's return from the disabled list has been considered the primary reason for the increased production from the offense, but Jennings' improvement has also been a factor. With the first of his three hits Tuesday, Jennings extended his streak to seven games and in that stretch is hitting a staggering .519 (14-for-27) with 11 runs.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]