Rays mount late rally but drop series opener to Indians
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger, center, wipes his forehead as he waits with third baseman Evan Longoria, left, and first baseman James Loney, right, for manager Joe Maddon to take him out of the game against the Cleveland Indians during the sixth inning.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — For the fourth straight game, the Tampa Bay Rays had runners on base in the ninth inning with a chance to win. And for the fourth straight game, they failed to get any of the runners across the plate.
Mike Aviles hit a three-run homer during a five-run seventh inning, Corey Kluber went 6 2-3 effective innings, and the Cleveland Indians stopped a seven-game road losing streak by beating the Rays 6-3 on Friday night.
Jake Odorizzi struck out a career-high 11 in five shutout innings for the Rays, who have lost six straight at home.
"Primarily, we have not hit," manager Joe Maddon said. "I mean, you look at the bullpen and we had one bad inning tonight, but we’ve scored 10 runs in the last four games. … You can slice this so many different ways, but some nights you’ve got to win 7-6 or 6-5, and we haven’t been able to do that."
Odorizzi threw a career-high 101 pitches while becoming the first Ray to go five innings or less in six straight starts. According to the Rays, he became the first AL pitcher with 11 strikeouts in five innings or less since the Rays’ Alex Cobb did it against San Diego on May 10, 2013.
"Odorizzi was really kind of carving us up," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
"That was the best I’ve mixed all year, and that was our game plan going into it," said Odorizzi, who used his curveball more than in his preceding five starts. "We tried to get them uncomfortable and we did that. It’s good to get back on the right track. It’s just bittersweet that we couldn’t pull it out today."
Cleveland got solo homers from Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley. Kluber (3-3) allowed two runs, nine hits and had nine strikeouts.
Brantley homered off Joel Peralta (1-3) before Yan Gomes hit an RBI single and Aviles had his three-run shot against Brandon Gomes as the Indians went ahead 6-2 in the seventh.
The Rays put together a serious ninth-inning threat once again. David DeJesus had an RBI double off John Axford with two outs that made it 6-3. Ben Zobrist then walked to load the bases, ending Axford’s night.
Cody Allen entered and got a fly ball from James Loney on a 3-2 pitch for his first save.
Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar left after the second inning with a bruised right thumb and is day to day. X rays were negative.
Maddon’s challenge of a double play in the first resulted in the call being overturned when a video review determined that Zobrist beat the relay throw at first.
NOTES: The game took 4 hours, 10 minutes. … Indians 2B Jason Kipnis (strained right oblique) has been cleared to swing a bat this weekend. … Tampa Bay CF Desmond Jennings, who went 1 for 15 in his previous three games, was rested. … The Indians gave no indication of appealing to MLB a scoring call that gave Cabrera a double in the eighth inning Thursday. If he would have been credited with a triple in his final at-bat, it would have given Cabrera the cycle. "I’m not too sure that it isn’t a triple, but I’m not positive it is either," Francona said. … Indians RHP Zach McAllister (3-2) and Rays LHP Erik Bedard (1-1) are Saturday night’s scheduled starters.