Kyle Lohse appeared to be on his way to overcoming a lackluster performance from his offense when the right-hander just couldn’t get a break in the sixth inning.
Following a borderline 3-2 pitch to Evan Longoria that was called a ball by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson to load the bases with two outs, James Loney dumped a bloop single into center to plate a pair of runs.
That was all the Tampa Bay Rays needed Monday night, as the Milwaukee Brewers fell, 2-1, at Tropicana Field.
"It’s just frustrating," Lohse said. "I felt like I threw the ball really well, made some good pitches. It was a tough one. Leave it at that."
Cruising with a 1-0 lead at the time, Lohse quickly got the first two outs of the sixth inning before issuing a walk to Ben Zobrist. Matt Joyce followed with a weakly hit grounder that beat Milwaukee’s shift and just snuck into the outfield down the third base line.
After Lohse got ahead of Longoria with a first-pitch fastball, he missed with a fastball and a pair of sliders to fall behind 3-1. Longoria fouled back a fastball to run the count full. Lohse came back with a changeup in on the Rays third baseman, but Davidson called it ball four.
"There was a lot of talk," manager Ron Roenicke said of the 3-2 pitch to Longoria. "I didn’t see it.
"A lot of them thought it was (strike three), but it was close from what I heard."
Loney then blooped one into center to easily score Zobrist and Joyce to put the Rays up 2-1.
"We got the shift and then (the) guy hits a ground ball to third," Lohse said. "Then you jam a guy. That one, you can’t do anything about. The one to Loney, it might have been just down; I wanted it up more on his hands. Maybe I can get him to pop up out of that one instead of him blooping it in there. But for the most part, I was making pitches and doing the things we set out to do. It’s just unfortunate the game turned the way it did."
Milwaukee’s inability to solve Jake Odorizzi and the Rays bullpen allowed Loney’s two-run single to hold up as the difference. The Brewers managed just three hits and scored only on a solo home run from Mark Reynolds in the third.
Picked 32nd overall by the Brewers in the 2008 draft and traded to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke deal, Odorizzi didn’t issue a walk and struck out five in his seven innings of work.
Just as it had seemed as if the switch had been flipped on for Milwaukee’s offense, the Brewers’ bats have gone cold again. Hitting just .165 since scoring nine runs last Thursday, Milwaukee has plated just eight runs in its last four games.
"It’s tough when you are not consistent scoring runs," Roenicke said. "When we come up against real good pitching, we realize we are not going to score a lot of runs. But I still think we have enough guys — we should be able to scratch out more than three hits and more than one run."
The Brewers have faced quite a bit of good pitching since the All-Star break, something that will continue in the foreseeable future. Tampa Bay will start Alex Cobb and David Price in the final two games of the series, while Milwaukee then faces three of the top 10 pitching teams in baseball in St. Louis, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It’s weird," Lohse said of the inconsistency. "What are you going to do? We’ve been playing some tough teams and playing them really tough. That Mets series, they had some good pitchers going at us, and this team here is no different.
"We know we’re in for a battle and it’s not going to get easier. I think we’ve proven that we’re never out of a game and we’re going to battle to the end."
Minor-league suspension: Brewers minor-league third baseman Nicky Delmonico has been suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment program after testing positive for an amphetamine.
Acquired from Baltimore in the Francisco Rodriguez trade last July, Delmonico is hitting .262 with four home runs and 15 RBI for Class-A Advanced Brevard County. The 22-year-old missed spring training due to personal issues and hasn’t played for the Manatees since July 7.