PHILADELPHIA — Throughout the Rays' turnaround, Akinori Iwamura has been almost automatic in the field.
The six-time Gold Glove winner in Japan made a seemingly seamless transition from third to second before this season, often cited as a big reason for Tampa Bay's defensive improvement.
But Sunday night, in Game 4 of the World Series, Iwamura made two uncharacteristic miscues in the first two-error game of his career. (He had just seven errors during the regular season.)
Both errors led to runs in a 10-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park that left the Rays one game from elimination.
Iwamura wasn't alone as the Rays have totaled five errors in the first four games of the World Series.
"I don't want to make any excuses," Iwamura said through interpreter Bori Uchibori. "I wanted to back up (starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine) in every angle, but I couldn't do it (Sunday)."
Each of Iwamura's errors helped a leadoff man reach and eventually score.
In the third, Chase Utley slapped a grounder to Iwamura, 29, who got in front of it and put his glove down on an apparent routine play. But the ball bounced off his glove. Four batters later, Pedro Feliz singled to score Utley and give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
"There was a bad hop. But at the same time, I was kind of rushing myself. And I don't know why I was rushing myself," Iwamura said. "If I could, I'd like to get back the moment."
Then in the fourth, the speedy Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder between second and first. Iwamura raced to his left and reached his glove out. But the ball bounced off the bottom tip of it and past him. Three batters later, Ryan Howard ripped a three-run homer for a 5-1 Phillies lead.
"I saw the edge of the turf, and the ball bounced less than expected," Iwamura said. "And so I kind of put the glove up a little bit.
"That's why the ball went down off my glove."
Iwamura bounced back in the seventh with a brilliant play to spark an inning-ending double play. On a sharp, low liner by Carlos Ruiz, Iwamura dived to his right to make the grab. He then picked off Feliz, who had strayed too far from first.
Iwamura pointed to his team's resiliency all year for why he's confident about tonight's Game 5.
"Whoever knows about the Tampa Bay Rays, we're known for bouncing back," Iwamura said. "We've done it. We've proved it. And I want to believe in that for (today)."
Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith @sptimes.com