ST. PETERSBURG (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays were hoping this homestand would provide them with a boost going forward for the first half of the season.
Instead, it appears these nine games have let all the air out of the sails.
The Rays ended the homestand with a 3-6 record as the Kansas City Royals again jumped on the Tampa Bay bullpen for five runs in the eighth innings, pulling away for a 6-0 decision Thursday at Tropicana Field, taking three of the four games in the series.
Starter Jake Odorizzi did his job for the Rays, throwing six innings and allowing just a single run on a fourth-inning home run from Whit Merrifield, walking two and striking out four.
The issues came after Chase Whitley had faced the minimum in the seventh. He ended up starting the eighth by allowing a single to Alcides Escobar and a walk to Mike Moustakas, prompting manager Kevin Cash to bring in Diego Moreno. the right-hander induced a groundout by Eric Hosmer, advancing the runners, and Salvador Perez drove in both runners with a double. Jorge Bonifacio doubled in Perez, and Merrifield's single plated Bonifacio, and when Kevin Kiermaier overran the baseball, he was able to round the bases to set the score.
The loss drops Tampa Bay back to a season-worst three games under .500 at 17-20.
Tampa Bay next heads to Boston to begin a six-game road trip, as Alex Cobb (2-3, 3.56 ERA) takes on Rick Porcello (2-4, 3.95 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch, presented by Sykes Lakeland.