ST. PETERSBURG — Lost in the fireworks of Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Cardinals was another strong outing by Rays RHP Wade Davis.
Davis, who had entered Friday on a three-start winning streak, went seven innings (on just 91 pitches), allowing two runs on six hits.
"Wade pitched well; he got better as the game was in progress, too," manager Joe Maddon said. "He gave us a chance to come back and win the game, which was wonderful. If you give up two runs in seven innings, that's pretty desirable from any starter."
Maddon liked how Davis used his curve more and settled in after giving up two second-inning runs. In his past three starts, Davis has a 1.80 ERA after posting a 9.19 ERA over his previous three.
WHY US?: INF Elliot Johnson and LHP David Price didn't understand why they were ejected in the eighth inning.
Johnson said he was trying to defend LHP J.P. Howell, because it seemed like crew chief Dana DeMuth "lost control of himself in that situation" and "seemed like he was yelling at J.P." Johnson was surprised it was first-base umpire Doug Eddings who threw him out.
"I wasn't swearing at the man; I wasn't name-calling or anything," Johnson said. "Realistically, I don't need to be involved in that situation."
Price said he didn't say anything to get ejected.
"I saw Elliot get tossed, and I was like, 'Why is he getting tossed?' " Price said. "And the next thing, I'm getting tossed out. It's a joke."
FLAT PLAY: Maddon was "annoyed" with the Rays' play early on, saying they were flat.
The Cardinals scored their second run, with David Freese coming around from second on a Yadier Molina single to right-center, partly due to the relay throws not getting in quick enough.
"We were sleepwalking," Maddon said.
Big man aims low: RHP Jeff Niemann isn't down on himself about his last outing, when he struggled in Houston.
For Niemann, it's just a matter of not leaving the ball up.
That's what happened often during Niemann's no-decision against the Astros, when he allowed five runs and seven hits over three innings (but the Rays rallied to win 14-10) in his second start since coming off the disabled list with a lower back strain. But Niemann believes he has made the appropriate adjustments heading into tonight against the Cardinals.
"That was the biggest issue in the last game, everything was up," Niemann said. "We were generally putting the ball where we wanted to, as far as inside and outside, but the ball was mid thigh and not to the knees."
MILLER TIME: For Cardinals LHP Trever Miller, a Land O'Lakes resident and Ray in 2004-05 and during the 2008 World Series run, Friday was a "nice little homecoming."
Maddon has credited Miller, as well as former Rays RHPs Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival, with helping change the culture of the clubhouse.
"I've had some great times here, a lot of fond memories," Miller said. "This is my home. I'm a fan of the game, and I'll be a fan of the Rays when I'm done playing. This is going to be my team."
MISCELLANY: The Rays acquired RHP Matt Torra on Friday from Arizona for cash considerations and sent him to Triple-A Durham. … The Rays signed RHP Isaac Gil, the 31st-round selection out of ASA College (N.Y), and have now signed 33 of their 60 picks. … RHP Chris Bootcheck, who has pitched well for Triple-A Durham, had an opt-out clause for Friday, but the Rays had no announcement yet on whether he had taken it.