ST. PETERSBURG -- Daniel Palka walked to the plate with four strikeouts in the rearview mirror. In the ninth, the White Sox DH made contact, and that proved to be the difference in an 8-7 win over the Rays Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.Palka re-routed a 96-mph Diego Castillo sinker
ST. PETERSBURG -- Daniel Palka walked to the plate with four strikeouts in the rearview mirror. In the ninth, the White Sox DH made contact, and that proved to be the difference in an 8-7 win over the Rays Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Palka re-routed a 96-mph Diego Castillo sinker and deposited the baseball 439 feet over the center-field wall to give the White Sox an 8-6 lead. The Rays scored in the bottom half of the inning on Kevin Kiermaier's RBI double, but it wasn't enough to avoid the loss and a three-game sweep as Tampa Bay fell to 56-56 on the season.
Kiermaier, who has been struggling offensively, had an RBI double in the ninth and Brandon Lowe walked to put runners at first and second with one out. But Hector Santiago got Jesus Sucre to hit into a 5-4-3 game-ending double play to snuff the rally.
Of Tampa Bay's 36 series this season, 15 have resulted in sweeps -- they've swept eight and been swept seven times. In other words, the team has been streaky all season and the past week has served as a microcosm of that streakiness. After the Rays lost the final three games of a four-game series against the Orioles, Tampa Bay returned home and swept the Angels in three before feeling the broom going in the opposite direction over the weekend against the White Sox.
"That's how baseball is," outfielder Carlos Gomez said. "The only thing we can do is come in the next day and figure it out. There's a lot of talent in this clubhouse. It's tough, but the more important thing here is that after we have a tough game, we come in here and figure it out. We need to try and be more consistent as a team, because we have a lot of talent here and this team can surprise."
To illustrate his "that's how baseball is" point, Gomez cited Palka.
"He hit a bomb with a tough guy on the mound," Gomez said. "You have to look at it in a positive way. Tomorrow is a day off. Enjoy the day off and come in here the next day and play again like we know we can."
James Shields started for the White Sox and continued to torment his former team. The veteran right-hander gave the White Sox a quality start, allowing two earned runs in six innings and leaving with a 6-4 lead, fueled in part by Avisail Garcia's pair of solo homers off Ryan Yarbrough.
Ji-Man Choi squared things up in the seventh with a two-run single off Jeanmar Gomez to tie the game at 6.
"I really didn't have anything today, to be honest with you," Shields said. "I had no feel for the baseball for the first four innings, and found a good rhythm the last two innings. But we ended up getting it done, and it was a good win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After scoring twice in the seventh to tie the game at 6, the Rays loaded the bases for a second time in the inning when Kiermaier walked to bring Lowe to the plate. The rookie got ahead in the count 3-0 against Jace Fry before striking out. Gomez then grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
Sunday was the 12th time this season Tampa Bay faced a starting pitcher who was a former member of the Rays, and they are 5-7 in those games. It was the 39th time a pitcher for the 2008 American League championship-winning team started against the club, and the Rays dropped to 20-19 in those games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With two outs in the eighth, White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez hit a ball 360 feet into the left-center-field gap, but Kiermaier ranged back and to his right for a fantastic running grab, tumbling onto the warning track and up against the wall to end the inning.
Castillo has pitched to a 10.80 ERA over his last eight appearances -- including multiple runs in five of those appearances -- to increase his ERA from 1.74 to 4.34. He took his second career loss on Sunday.
HE SAID IT
"Losses are losses. Wins are wins. You just want to play better baseball and they did things to take advantage of opportunities and found ways to win all three games." -- Rays manager Kevin Cash on facing, and losing, to a team that has been struggling
Tyler Glasnow will start Tuesday when the Rays face the Orioles in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay acquired the right-hander on July 31 in the trade that sent Chris Archer to the Pirates. He made his Rays debut on Wednesday, holding the Angels to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out five in three innings. Glasnow will throw opposite O's starter Alex Cobb.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.