Royals make Rays’ 6th straight loss extra long, frustrating

ST. PETERSBURG — This one really hurt.

The Rays battled back three times Saturday, trying to fight their way out of a losing streak. They even picked themselves up off the mat when they were down to their final strike in the 10th inning.

It was not enough.

The Royals scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning for a 7-4 win over the Rays in front of an announced crowd of 20,309. It was the Rays’ season-high sixth straight loss.

“Very, very frustrating,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s not something that we want to dwell on and continue to have these conversations. I would rather be talking about wins. But right now they’re tough to come by.

“I am confident that guys will keep their heads up and we’ll just come out and do what we can (Sunday).”

The Royals won their eighth straight game, their longest win streak since 2017. That, coincidentally, was the same year Kansas City last won a series at Tropicana Field. They go for the sweep on Sunday.

The Rays (25-28) have dropped three straight home series for the first time this season and, along with the Rangers, currently own the longest active losing streak in the majors.

“We’re in a situation right now where we’ve got to be pretty perfect to find a way to win a game,” Cash said. “We haven’t done that in a while but we’ve got to be pretty perfect to win a game and stay in a ball game.”

The Rays were much closer to that Saturday than they were in Friday night’s sloppy loss.

Aaron Civale held the hot Royals bats in check through five innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out five.

Civale looked at the big picture.

“At the end of the day, we were in the game throughout, from the first pitch of the game all the way to the end,” Civale said. “That’s a good game of baseball we played at the end of the day and had opportunities. Eventually, if we just keep grinding away, it’ll fall into place.”

The Rays did have their opportunities.

Jonathan Aranda doubled and had a home run. Isaac Paredes tied the score for the first time in the fifth inning with a ground-out RBI. In the seventh, Harold Ramirez, who had not had an at-bat since May 18, lined a pinch-hit RBI single into rightfield to knot things up again. Down to their final strike in the bottom of the 10th inning, Jonny DeLuca came through.

“When Harold came up and got that hit, that kind of reminded me that that’s us, you know,” Cash said. “Come up with that big late hit, be able to match up a little bit and Harold came through in a big way for us. Would like to have added on (runs) right there so encouraged by that. But, I mean, from that at-bat on it was a challenge to put more runs on the board.”

That has been a theme for the Rays through this six-game slide. They have been outscored 38-14 in this span, averaging just over two runs a game. They went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position Saturday and are hitting .163 with RISP in this streak.

And the Royals didn’t struggle in the 11th.

Nelson Velazquez doubled off lefty Richard Lovelady for a run. Adam Frazier and Maikel Garcia each singled for runs off the Rays’ new reliever.

“It’s tough,” said Lovelady, acquired from the Cubs. “We battled all game. The starter did all we asked for, he gave it to the bullpen and we handed it off to the next guys. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get it done.”

In a very quiet clubhouse after the loss, Ramirez said the loss was frustrating, but there were things the Rays can use to turn this around.

“I feel more energy,” Ramirez said of the team. “I feel like we played very good baseball. We didn’t win this time, but that is part of baseball. We just have to come out (Sunday) and try again.

“We have to eliminate the past and look forward.”

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