Another road loss has cost the Tampa Bay Rays sole possession of first place in the AL East.
The Rays try to avoid an eighth consecutive road loss when they continue their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Tampa Bay (59-42) lost 4-2 to Kansas City in Thursday’s series opener - its first road game since the All-Star break. The setback dropped the Rays, who headed into the break off an 0-6 road swing, into a tie for first place with Boston, which was idle Thursday. The Red Sox open a weekend set with the New York Yankees on Friday.
The Rays, 19-26 away from home, head to Toronto for three games after leaving Kansas City. Tampa Bay had road losing streaks of eight and nine games in 2007, when it finished 29-52 away from Tropicana Field.
“We were trying to get it done all at once,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “More than anything, I would just like to see us get back to our line-drive approach and it’s going to happen.”
The rookie third baseman Longoria is batting .333 (7-for-21) with three homers and seven RBIs in his last six games, and .450 (9-for-20) in four games against Kansas City.
Tampa Bay’s hitters will face Kansas City’s Brian Bannister (7-8, 5.49 ERA) for the second time this month. Bannister allowed six earned runs and eight hits in five innings of an 11-2 loss at Tampa Bay on July 4.
The right-hander, 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in his career versus the Rays, gave up five runs and eight hits in three innings of an 8-7 win at Chicago on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 10.71 ERA in his last four outings.
“It’s just the big innings that have killed me,” Bannister told the Royals’ official Web site.
The Rays counter with Edwin Jackson (5-7, 4.25), who looks to rebound after yielding six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-4 loss at Toronto on Sunday.
“It was one of those days where it wasn’t my day,” said Jackson, who is 1-2 over his last six starts, with the only win coming when he went eight innings in the July 4 victory over Bannister and the Royals.
David DeJesus, Alex Gordon and Ross Gload each had two hits while John Buck drove in a pair of runs Thursday for the Royals (46-57), who bounced back after being swept in a three-game set by Detroit this week.
It’s uncertain if Kansas City outfielder Mark Teahen, nursing a sore back, will play after he sat for the third time in four games Thursday.