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Thursday, Jul 10, 2014

Orioles shut out Rays again, take series

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:58 PM

With the offense mired in an unwatchable standstill — it's now a season-high 21 consecutive innings without a run for the Rays following Sunday afternoon's 1-0, 10-inning defeat against the Baltimore Orioles — manager Joe Maddon doesn't want his team to try harder.

"At this point, I want them to do less," Maddon said.

Maddon, citing the long season, obviously meant pulling back on the energy-sapping, game-day preparation. On the field, it's hard to imagine the Rays' offense being less productive. The groans and boos from the 29,530 Tropicana Field fans were evidence of that.

 The Rays wasted a magnificent outing by left-hander David Price (eight innings, two hits, no runs), who was trying to become the first 15-game winner in the major leagues. They patched together just three hits and didn't get a runner to third base after the first inning.

After suffering back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2008, the Rays are bearing down on the franchise record for most consecutive innings without scoring a run (26 by the 2002 Devil Rays, who lost 106 games).

Baltimore won it on a two-out, two-strike RBI double by ninth-place batter Taylor Teagarden, who picked on a chest-high fastball from reliever Joel Peralta. Teagarden came into the at-bat at 2-for-27 this season. Peralta had issued a one-out walk to Mark Reynolds, who was in motion when Teagarden smacked his double to the left-field gap.

"We've got to learn how to hit it now," Rays right fielder Matt Joyce said. "We've learned how to catch the thing (with improved defense). Now we've got to figure out how to hit it."

"Right now, it falls on the offense," said Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, who left in the fourth inning with upper back spasms, but doesn't expect to miss any additional time. "We've got to do whatever we can to score more runs. Our pitchers have been awesome and we're playing good defense. We've got to get more hits and we've got to get bigger hits."

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton collected a one-out double to the left-center field gap in the first inning, but was stranded at third. Elsewhere, the Rays got a seventh-inning single to right (against the shift) by Carlos Peña and Joyce's squibber in front of the plate (essentially a bunt) that he beat out to start the ninth.

Otherwise, nada!

Third baseman Ryan Roberts had a chance to end it in the ninth, but he struck out with runners on first and second.

"You've just got to fight through it," Maddon said. "There's no running away from it. There are no excuses to be made. We just have to get better.

"I'm at the point now where I'd really like them to do less as opposed to more. I'd rather go American Legion right now, just show up and play. There's something to be said for that. (Instead of) coming too early to the ballpark, sit and grind it out, I'd rather go the other way. Come with a fresh mind and body."

The Rays, unanimously frustrated with their lack of offense, also were heartbroken to not offer any support for Price.

"I just wanted to put a good at-bat together (in the ninth) and not make the last out," Roberts said. "I could care less about being a hero in that situation. The hero of the game was David Price for the way he battled and kept us in it. To get shut out like that and let him down, it's tough to swallow."

"The pitching was stellar," Maddon said. "David was great. We're not playing bad baseball. We're just not hitting."

Price came into the game with the highest run support on the Rays' staff (5.53 runs per nine innings), so he philosophically shrugged it off as part of baseball's up-and-down rhythm.

"(Orioles starter Miguel) Gonzalez threw the ball really well, too," Price said. "Every time you play somebody in the AL East, it's going to be a pretty good game. They beat us two of three and we look forward to our next one."

The next one is Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Today, the Rays will rest on their off day.

Tuesday night, they can only hope their next one isn't as mind-numbing as their last one.