Zobrist's historic blasts can't snap Rays' skid

Zobrist's historic blasts can't snap Rays' skid

Zobrist's historic blasts can't snap Rays' skid

ST. PETERSBURG -- The venue changed, but a return to St. Petersburg could not snap the Rays' losing streak on Tuesday, as they fell 5-4 to the Mariners at Tropicana Field.

They have now lost six straight games, matching their longest losing streak since the start of the 2011 season.

Prior to the six-game skid, the Rays had won 19 of 22 games and had claimed first place in the American League East. Now, they sit four games behind the Red Sox with the Orioles inching closer.

"We won all those games and had a nice thing going on, but sometimes it goes in the wrong direction," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's how you handle the moment that makes you different. We have to handle this properly. No pointing of the fingers. Just come out and play the game."

After leaving his last start early with forearm tightness, Rays starter Chris Archer gave up five runs on nine hits as he stumbled through five innings.

Archer said nothing lingered from the injury scare, but attributed his ineffectiveness to being unable to make pitches in key situations. The two runs he gave up in the fourth came after he retired Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales.

"I'm making good pitches and sometimes, good isn't enough," Archer said. "I take full responsibility for that loss. If I execute a couple pitches, we win that game. It's on me, and I was really hoping to go out there and reverse the fortune we've been having. Tonight wasn't the night."

Archer gave up a leadoff home run to Seattle shortstop Brad Miller on the third pitch he threw. Zobrist tied the game in the bottom of the first with a leadoff home run on Erasmo Ramirez's third offering.

Miller homered again to lead off the fifth. Zobrist, again, answered the call with a two-run blast of his own in the bottom of the inning, his 100th career home run.

It was just the second time in MLB history that leadoff hitters for both clubs homered in their first at-bat and then hit another later in the game, with Chuck Knoblauch of the Twins and Tony Phillips of the Tigers doing the double deed on June 5, 1994.

"I actually was here in high school when Zobrist hit his very first home run," Miller said. "I remember he came up as a left-handed hitting shortstop and I said, 'Hey, I'm going to remember that guy.' He hit some balls well tonight. I'm just glad he didn't do it in the last inning, and we were able to close it out."

Justin Smoak's two-out single through the right side of the infield plated the Mariners' next two runs. With an infield shift on, charging shortstop Yunel Escobar cut the ball off from Zobrist, but failed to complete the play.

Zobrist said he could have made a play, but maintained that the ball belonged to Escobar.

"That's what happens when you're losing like that," Maddon said. "When you talk about good baseball luck and bad baseball luck, it really exists, and right now, ours is bad, but in order to get it to come back to you, you keep working through it and going forward."

The Rays added another run in the first on singles from Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria. James Loney followed with a single to score Joyce.

The Mariners regained the lead in the sixth after Archer gave up his final hit to Smoak. Dustin Ackley then tagged reliever Wesley Wright for an RBI triple in Wright's first appearance for the Rays. Wright settled down to record three straight outs and get out of the inning, combining with the back end of the bullpen to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard in the game's final three innings.

Maddon chose to use relievers Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and Fernando Rodney, as he usually does with the lead, because he had confidence that the middle of the Rays' lineup would strike in the bottom of the ninth.

Instead, Danny Farquhar collected his fifth consecutive save by striking out Zobrist and Joyce before inducing a fly ball from Longoria to end the game.

"What sets teams apart is how you process the conflict, and I think we process it well," Maddon said. "Nobody likes a six-game losing streak, but it happens, and how you bounce back is what matters."

Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.