Tampa Bay Rays
Long balls lift White Sox past Hernandez, Rays
Matt Joyce was not really sure why he was moved to the leadoff spot Friday, but the results were certainly there. The slumping slugger drove home the first and last runs of the game for the Tampa Bay Rays. Encouraging? Sure. But that's not what Joyce took away from the game, a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. “The bigger issue is we got to find a way to win on the road, so for us that's in the forefront of our minds,” Joyce said. The Rays are now 2-9 on the road this season, including losses in the first two games of this 10-game road trip. The latest loss was particularly frustrating because the Rays held a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning and starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez allowed just one batter to reach base the first time through the order. And then it went away. The White Sox scored once in the fourth inning and three times in the fifth inning, when Hernandez served up two of the career-high three home runs he would allow. “I felt pretty good about it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We were playing well, he was pitching well, and then they got the three runs in one inning and that was pretty much the tale. (Chicago starter Jake) Peavy, of course, was good. We had a chance there at the very end, but you can't rely on that all the time.” The Rays trailed 5-3 in the ninth but put together a rally against White Sox closer Addison Reed. Jose Molina doubled with one out and scored with two outs when Joyce had his first hit of the season with a runner in scoring position. A walk to Kelly Johnson moved Joyce, the tying run, into scoring position and brought Ben Zobrist to the plate. But Zobrist struck out swinging to end the game. “You have to capitalize on those close games,” Joyce said. “I think good teams do, good teams that make the playoffs have a lot of moments where they win a lot of close games. For us, we have to figure out how to win those games.” The game got away from the Rays in the middle innings because Hernandez's sinker stopped sinking. “To me he pitched the same way,” Molina said. “They put good wood on the ball and the ball took off the wrong way. I guess instead of going into the ground it went into the air.” Hernandez said afterward that his sinker flattened out. “After a couple innings my ball was flat, no movement, nothing,” Hernandez said. The three fifth-inning runs for the White Sox scored on a solo home run by Hector Gimenez, his first career home run, and a two-run shot by Tyler Greene to straightaway center field. It was Greene's first home run of the season. “(Hernandez) was OK,” Maddon said. “I just think that he was probably missing a little bit where he wanted the ball to be. Stuff-wise looked a little flat from the side, which I think the hitters kind of demonstrated.” Joyce was hitting leadoff because Maddon wanted to give the slumping Desmond Jennings the night off. It was the third time Joyce has batted leadoff, and he's homered in all three games. “At that rate I might want to lead off every game if that was the case,” Joyce said. “I think that's just Joe trying to mix things up. I'm not really sure what his theory is behind hitting somebody leadoff, but it seems to work for most people that he's done it to.” Evan Longoria also homered as the Rays extended their streak of home runs in consecutive games to 12 — three shy of the team record set in 2009. Longoria also tied Carlos Peña for second on the franchise's all-time RBI list with 468. Carl Crawford is the leader with 592. Hernandez, who fell to 1-4 with a 5.28 ERA, allowed a sixth-inning home run to Conor Gillaspie to give the White Sox a 5-3 lead. That was something Hernandez had never done even when he was known as Fausto Carmona. And, it was the second time a Tampa Bay pitcher named Roberto Hernandez allowed three home runs in a game. The original Roberto Hernandez, the franchise's first closer, allowed three homers in the ninth inning April 21, 2000, against the Anaheim Angels at Tropicana Field. Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon and Troy Glaus went deep off that Roberto Hernandez. That same trio homered earlier in the game off Dwight Gooden. Maddon was in the Trop that night as a coach for the Angels. Another note on the Hernandez home run craze: Both have allowed 96 career home runs.