ST. PETERSBURG -- For the third consecutive game, the Rays were unable to score more than two runs as the Braves swept a two-game Interleague set at Tropicana Field with a 5-2 win on Wednesday.Tampa Bay's offense was held scoreless for seven innings before Wilson Ramos delivered with a two-out,
ST. PETERSBURG -- For the third consecutive game, the Rays were unable to score more than two runs as the Braves swept a two-game Interleague set at Tropicana Field with a 5-2 win on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay's offense was held scoreless for seven innings before Wilson Ramos delivered with a two-out, two-run single off Braves reliever A.J. Minter in the 8th inning. With the base hit, Ramos extended his league-leading hitting streak to 16 games.
Before Ramos' single, the Rays had been held without a run in the series and had not had a runner cross home plate since Carlos Gomez hit a solo home run in the 8th inning on Sunday. It's the third consecutive game the Rays have scored two or fewer runs.
"Obviously the bats have kind of gone quiet here the last three days," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We got so hot for a time period, but it's a combination of being pitched tough and probably looking to do a little bit too much at times."
This isn't the first time this season that the Rays have been hampered by a lack of offense. Tampa Bay struggled to get going offensively, which caused them to get off to a 3-12 start. The Rays, however, found a way to break out of that slump as they rattled off eight consecutive wins from April 18-27.
The Rays are hoping a change of scenery will help them bounce back during an 11-game road trip that begins on Friday in Baltimore against the Orioles.
"I still believe in my guys here," Ramos said. "You just have to keep your head up, go to Baltimore and keep playing like we have been playing the past couple of weeks. We're still close in this division, I know it's tough, but we have to keep playing baseball."
Ryan Yarbrough made his second Major League start on Wednesday, but was up-and-down throughout. The lefty struck out seven over five innings of work, but the Braves were able to tack on five runs against him.
"Kind of a unique outing," Cash said. "He got us punchouts and got his swings-and-misses, but they also had at-bats where it seemed like they were on everything. Not quite sure what to make [of the outing], but obviously the home run was the dagger."
Ender Inciarte put Atlanta on the board with a two-out RBI single that drove in Nick Markakis, but the Braves did most of their damage in a four-run third inning.
Charlie Culberson and Ozzie Albies got the inning started with back-to-back singles, which were followed by a Ronald Acuna Jr. hit by pitch that loaded the bases with no outs. Freddie Freeman added a run on a sacrifice fly that scored Culberson before Markakis launched a 2-1 Yarbrough fastball into the right-field stands to give the Braves a commanding 5-0 lead.
Despite scoring just three runs in the last three games, the Rays have been able to put together 21 hits over that span. Tampa Bay, however, has been missing the big hit, which was evident Wednesday after the club went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
"We just aren't capitalizing when we get guys on base," Cash said. "... Take the off-day and hopefully transition some of those hits into runs going into Baltimore."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Rays threatening after Ramos' two-out single got the Rays on the board, Tampa Bay outfielder Rob Refsnyder represented the tying run in the eighth inning. Minter was able to limit the damage by getting Refsnyder to fly out to center field to end the Rays' last threat of the night.
Wednesday night's 5-2 loss was the first time since April 17 against the Rangers that the Rays have lost by more than one run. The club has a league-leading 12 one-run losses this season.
HE SAID IT
"Just go out there and compete. Bring the fire every day and go ahead and take care of the little things and win ballgames." -- Rays infielder Daniel Robertson, on the team's mentality heading into the three city, 11-game road trip
EOVALDI'S REHAB START
Nathan Eovaldi gave up one earned run on a home run and struck out three over two innings of work for Class A Charlotte during his second rehab start on Wednesday. Eovaldi is recovering from an elbow injury that sidelined him toward the end of Spring Training. He threw 32 pitches with 22 of them being for strikes.
Following Thursday's off-day, the Rays travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles for a four-game set, which includes a Saturday doubleheader. Right-hander Jake Faria will be on the mound for the Rays in Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET contest at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles will start Kevin Gausman in the series opener.
Juan Toribio is a reporter for MLB.com.