ARLINGTON, Texas — Quietly, the Rays are losing all the ground they gained.
Tuesday, they went down 1-0 — amazingly, for the fourth time this month — to Texas, extending their losing streak to four games, longest since late June. The Rays are the first American League team to lose four 1-0 games in a calendar month since the 1955 White Sox.
"We're just not hitting," manager Joe Maddon said. "To lose 1-0 four times in a 22-game span, that's frustrating. I'll use the word frustrating."
"You'd like to think we could put one on the board," shortstop Ben Zobrist said.
The Rays also lost rightfielder Matt Joyce in the second inning, as he left with a left forearm strain that he hopes isn't serious and won't lead to anything worse than day-to-day status.
James Shields pitched tremendously well, allowing only three hits over seven solid innings, but one of them was a home run to Ian Kinsler on a full-count pitch — a fat fastball down the middle — leading off the fourth.
"It's not very fun," Shields said. "Obviously there's not a lot of times where you pitch and give up a solo homer and that wins the ballgame."
The Rays dropped to 70-59 and, with the teams ahead of them all winning, lost ground in both races, dropping five games behind the Yankees and 1½ behind the wild card-leading Orioles and A's.
The Rays had a plethora of scoring opportunities, getting runners on base in each of the first five innings and in six innings overall. But they failed to cash in, in part because they struck out 14 times, 10 against starter Yu Darvish, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"We're just not getting hits when we need to," Maddon said.
It was most frustrating in the fourth, when they got the first two men on when Zobrist singled and Luke Scott walked, but Carlos Peña struck out — for one of four times on the night — and, after Ryan Roberts singled to load the bases, Jose Lobaton grounded into a double play.
It was nearly as bad in the second when Zobrist, who drew a leadoff walk, didn't know what happened on Scott's smash down the first-base line and stopped temporarily going around second, and only made it as far as third on what turned into a double for Scott. The next three Rays went down quickly.
It appeared on replays that Zobrist was deked by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, who acted like there would be a play at second, but Zobrist said that was not the case, that he just didn't know where the ball was and wasn't in a position to look at third-base coach Tom Foley.
"I wasn't looking at (Andrus) at all,'' Zobrist said. "I just didn't know if (first baseball Mitch Moreland) had made the play and stopped the ball or not. I guess that was why I stopped for a second at second, and then I realized. It was just a reaction play.''
And in the eighth when Sam Fuld - who had three hits after replacing Joyce - stole second but Evan Longoria struck out and Zobrist laced a ball that Moreland dove for and grabbed.
The Rays felt they had moved past the inconsistency that plagued their offense much of the season, but it continues to be an issue, made even more glaring given the tremendous pitching they have been getting. Overall, it was the eighth time they were shut out. Also concerning, of the past 11 one-run games they've played, they have lost 10, and 19 of their past 25.
Consider that in their first 14 seasons of play, they lost only 14 1-0 games, and now they have lost four in a 22-game span. (Also, it was only the 12th 1-0 game at the Rangers Ballpark, which opened in 1994.)
"The pain factor is closer to a 10 when you get shut out 1-0," Maddon said, "and we've had the displeasure of experiencing that often in the recent past."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]