ST. PETERSBURG -- Through six innings, Nathan Eovaldi pumped the strike zone with little margin for error, overpowering the Rays' lineup and counting down the outs to the finish. It unraveled quickly, and the Yankees believe he deserved better.
Eovaldi was tagged with the loss as Tampa Bay scratched out two runs in the seventh and grabbed the lead in an eighth inning that featured two Dellin Betances wild pitches, stunning the Yanks with a 4-2 loss on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
"He pitched great. He really did," catcher Brian McCann said. "That [seventh] inning right there, a little bloop, a walk and it kind of snowballed. He pitched as good as you can pitch up until the seventh."
Evan Longoria opened the seventh with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Eovaldi walked Logan Forsythe and then uncorked a wild pitch on a splitter that advanced the runners, setting up David DeJesus' game-tying ground-ball single to center field.
"I made a good pitch to DeJesus," Eovaldi said. "[He] put it in play, got it up the middle and those runs scored."
With his pitch count still well shy of the century mark, manager Joe Girardi sent Eovaldi back out for the eighth, hoping he would fall back into the pattern that saw him retire 11 straight through one stretch.
"His pitch count was at 70 and he had pitched great," Girardi said. "I know he gave up the two runs, but he still wasn't hit hard and I thought he was throwing the ball well."
Eovaldi issued a one-out walk to Kevin Kiermaier on four pitches and Steven Souza Jr. singled through the hole at second base, prompting Girardi to summon Betances.
"I can't give that free base," Eovaldi said. "I've got to attack him and make him put the ball in play. It's just frustrating, them letting me go out as long as they did, and then just giving them that free pass."
Girardi hoped for a strikeout in that spot, but Longoria connected for a sacrifice fly that gave the Rays the lead, and following a steal and intentional walk, Tampa Bay's fourth run scored as Betances uncorked back-to-back wild pitches.
"[Eovaldi] didn't have a lot of wiggle room," Girardi said. "The wild pitch hurt him. He pitched really well. He pitched a really good game, and it's unfortunate that he got the loss."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.