ST. PETERSBURG –The Rays rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth Friday night, but their rally came up short as the Marlins held on for a 6-5 win at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay's bullpen gave up five runs in the seventh, and that was too much to overcome, though the Rays had the winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth. Daniel Robertson struck out with two on to end the game after the Rays had four hits in the final inning.
Making matters worse, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game in the fifth inning, revealing he's been limited by a right foot injury since fouling a ball off his foot in Boston on April 8. He said the pain from the lingering injury Friday was the "worst" he's endured this season, and he'll be evaluated Saturday, though he's hopeful he'll only miss a "couple of games."
Marlins outfielder Derek Dietrich, once a second-round pick of the Rays, got back at his old team in a big way. His solo shot in the third inning tied the game, and his three-run shot off reliever Hoby Milner in the seventh put the Marlins ahead.
"We looked like a team that had four days off, up until the ninth inning," manager Kevin Cash said. "Too little, too late."
The Rays (49-48) made it interesting in the ninth, getting a bases-loaded triple from Mallex Smith to cut the lead to two runs. C.J. Cron hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 6-5, and Adeiny Hechavarria and Jake Bauers singled to put the winning run on base. Reliever Adam Conley came in for the final out, getting Robertson to strike out to end the rally.
The Rays have now lost four of five games, and three of four this season to their intrastate rivals. It's unknown whether Kiermaier's injury could be anything to sideline him for a longer timeframe.
"You would think me being on the 60-day DL (with thumb injury), it would go away," Kiermaier said. "It's crazy that it's still a thing, but I've been feeling it … It's frustrating because I haven't been able to get rid of this. I've had good days and bad days, but today was the worst day I've had."
If Dietrich's home run wasn't trouble enough in the seventh, the Rays allowed two runs to score with two errors on the same play. Brian Anderson doubled off the wall in left, and Hechavarria misplayed the relay to allow one run to score. As Robertson ran to foul territory to grab the loose ball, he kicked it into the dugout, allowing Anderson to score for a 6-1 lead.
Diego Castillo (1-1) took the loss, and the bullpen spoiled a solid start from Nathan Eovaldi, who gave up one run in six innings, striking out eight. Milner, making his Tropicana Field debut after being acquired from the Phillies last week, gave up a home run and another shot that came a few feet short of leaving the park.
Kiermaier had started the game off well, taking a routine ground ball up the middle and turning it into a leadoff double, then scoring from second on a single by Hechavarria. Hechavarria was only playing because third baseman Matt Duffy was a late scratch due to back spasms, but put the Rays ahead early. Cash said he's hopeful Duffy is just day-to-day with his injury.
Kiermaier entered Friday's game hitting .179 on the season, with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 140 at-bats. The Rays replaced him by inserting Cron at first base, moving Bauers to left field and moving Smith to center.
Eovaldi, showcasing himself as a potential deadline trade for the Rays, pitched well, getting all three outs on strikeouts in the first inning. He finished with eight strikeouts in six innings, his only real mistake a solo home run from Dietrich in the third inning to tie the game. Dietrich, a second-round Rays draft pick in 2010 who was traded to the Marlins for infielder Yunel Escobar in December 2012, got revenge with just his second career multi-home-run game, giving him 13 home runs this season..