The Rays had a close 2-1 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays going into the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday in Toronto, but then the Blue Jays rallied to win 3-2. It had looked like Scott Kazmir was going to get his first road win since May, thanks to Gabe Kapler's two-run homer in the top of the sixth. Kazmir pitched six innings and struck out 10, but when J.P. Howell (6-4) gave up a game-tying homer and walked three in the ninth and then threw a wild pitch, the game went into the loss column for the Rays.
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On Friday, the Rays opened a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers and got run over 6-2 in the Motor City. Starter Matt Garza (7-9) pitched well through the first three innings, but it all came apart in the fourth when he gave up three consecutive RBI doubles. Gabe Kapler's homer in the top of th ninth failed to spark a rally. Garza pitched five innings, giving up five hits, six earned runs, one home run, walking three and striking out five.
The Rays on Saturday came back 3-1 against the Tigers. Winning pitcher David Price (7-6) pitched his career high in innings and the Rays' Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford each drove in a run to lift the Rays. Price threw 7 1/3 innings, giving up five hits, one earned run, walking one and striking out four. J.P. Howell pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save of the season.
On Sunday, the Rays again fell short 4-3 against the Tigers. Jeff Niemann left in the eighth with a two-run lead but losing pitcher Grant Balfour (5-3) gave up a three-run homer to the Tigers' Placido Polanco and the Rays ended up in the loss column. Evan Longoria and Akinori Iwamura homered for the Rays. Niemann pitched seven inning and to one batter in the eighth, and Balfour threw only an inning, giving up one hit, two earned runs, walking one and striking out one.
The Rays on Monday managed a split in their four-game series with the Tigers, winning 11-7. Carlos Pena belted his league-leading 38th homer of the season to cap a six-run first inning. He drove in four runs and, with Jason Bartlett, was a triple short of hitting for the cycle. A three-run seventh for the Rays helped put the game away as the Rays shaved a half-game off their Wild Card deficit. James Shields (9-10) pitched seven innings, giving up 10 hits, five runs (four of them earned), two homers, walking one and striking out six.
On Tuesday, the Rays began a key three-game series with the Boston Red Sox, and fell 8-4, losing ground in the AL East. With three errors that led to three unearned runs, and a struggling Andy Sonnanstine (6-8) on the mound, this was a game the Rays could not afford to lose. Carlos Pena hit his 39th homer and the Rays had 11 hits, but most of the bullpen ended up pitching in the losing effort. Losing pitcher Sonnanstine threw four innings, giving up eight hits, three earned runs, two homers, walking four and striking out two.
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