Rays' bats can't back Price's 10-strikeout outing

Ace tosses eight-inning quality start, but offense strands 10

Rays' bats can't back Price's 10-strikeout outing

ST. PETERSBURG -- "Fifty-and-50" isn't off to a great start.

Since Rays manager Joe Maddon set 50-50 as a short-term goal for his ballclub on Saturday -- go 26-11 to get to .500 through 100 games -- Tampa Bay has lost three straight games, including Monday's series finale against the Mariners, 3-0, at Tropicana Field.

A diving snowcone catch by Ben Zobrist, double-digit strikeouts by David Price and five walks in 4 2/3 innings by the scuffling Erasmo Ramirez weren't enough to spark the Rays, who were shut out for the second straight game.

"There's not a whole lot to add to it. At some point, we have to get our bats alive," Maddon said.

The Rays have lost 13 of 14 -- three of four to the Mariners this series -- while falling to 24-41, the worst mark in the Major Leagues. The offense has gone 19 innings without scoring, and Rays batters are 10 for their last 95 with runners in scoring position. They couldn't score off Ramirez -- who entered the game 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA -- despite the five free passes, or off the Seattle bullpen.

Even Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn't seem overly impressed with his starter.

"He did OK. It was better than his last two or three outings," McClendon said. "He made some pitches at times."

Not exactly a glowing review -- which doesn't say much for the Tampa Bay offense. In Ramirez's last three outings, he allowed 10 runs in 15 innings and gave up five homers.

Maddon said that even though he doesn't think the Rays are the worst team in baseball, he can't blame people for thinking they are.

"We've earned that. We've absolutely earned that title right now," Maddon said. "Right now, if you're a baseball fan watching us, and you look at everything, you have to consider us the worst team right now."

David Price (4-6, 3.97 ERA) started for the Rays and allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out 10. He posted two scoreless innings before the Mariners got busy in the third.

John Buck singled to right to open the inning, and one out later, Willie Bloomquist singled to center. James Jones followed with a bunt single to load the bases for Robinson Cano. Price left an 0-2 fastball belt high over the plate, and Cano delivered with a double to left to drive home Buck and Bloomquist, while sending Jones to third. Stefen Romero's groundout to second scored Jones to put the Mariners up, 3-0.

"The one pitch I feel like I would want back is just the 0-2 fastball to Cano. When you leave stuff middle-in, up in the zone, that's what good hitters do, and that hurt," Price said. "Broken-bat single, broken-bat single, bunt hit ... and then Cano."

Price has been hurt by big innings this season, especially recently. In three of his past four starts, he's given up innings of five, four and three runs.

"If I could probably take away, five, six, seven innings this year, I would be interested to see where I was at," Price said.

Still, Price pitched plenty well enough to give his team a chance to win on Monday. His offense, which has been shut out in four of nine games in June and an American League-high nine times this season -- one more game than they were shut out all of last year -- just didn't pick him up.

The Rays threatened with two outs in the fifth when James Loney doubled and Ben Zobrist walked against Ramirez. But Seattle brought in left-hander Joe Beimel, who struck out pinch-hitter Jerry Sands for the third out.

Another opportunity came the Rays' way in the seventh when Kevin Kiermaier doubled with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch. Evan Longoria walked to put runners at the corners, but Loney grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

"There are no excuses to be made," Maddon said. "There's no solid reason. I believe in our guys offensively. It's just not playing out right now. There are a lot of guys that are under their norms. Why? I don't really have a solid answer.

"When you hear 10-for-95 with runners in scoring position, you've got to believe there's like a 40-for-100 at some point. But who knows."

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