ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash wasn’t around to witness the final six innings of another frustrating defeat Friday night.
Kendrys Morales hit his 15th homer, Edinson Volquez pitched into the seventh inning and the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals handed the Rays a 3-2 loss, their fourth in five games.
Cash was ejected in the third inning by first base umpire Brian O’Nora for arguing after Logan Forsythe was called out on a grounder to short with runners on second and third with two outs. Cash couldn’t challenge the call after having lost a challenge earlier.
“It stings but it’s part of baseball,” Cash said. “I think the replay shows enough.”
O’Nora had another call overturned after a Kansas City challenge in the first inning when Ben Zobrist was called out on what was changed to an infield single.
Morales put the Royals up 3-1 with a two-run shot in the third off Erasmo Ramirez that struck an overhanging catwalk and landed on the field, causing some confusion.
“I was confused in a couple of ways,” Morales said through an interpreter. “I didn’t think I hit the ball that well, and I didn’t see where it actually hit.”
Ramirez (10-5) said the damage had been done regardless of the ruling.
“Whatever the decision was, I knew it was damage,” he said. “A home run is just worse damage. No matter what the play was, I didn’t make my pitch.”
Morales has 89 RBIs this season, including a majors-best 46 with two outs.
Volquez (12-7) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. Greg Holland, the third Kansas City reliever, got three outs for his 29th save.
The teams combined for only three hits - all two-out singles - after the third inning.
“We knew coming into this entire series, you’ve got to get the starter because when you get behind, their bullpen is quite a weapon for them,” Cash said.
Ramirez gave up three runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings for the Rays, who fell 3 1/2 games back in the crowded second AL wild-card race. Ramirez has given up nine home runs in his last 11 starts after giving up only four before that.
The Rays closed to 3-2 in the third as Daniel Nava scored when left fielder Paulo Orlando dropped John Jaso’s routine fly for an error.
Kansas City took a 1-0 lead on Orlando’s second-inning RBI single. The Rays tied it at 1 in the bottom half when James Loney had a run-scoring double.
Zobrist had the infield single and a double in four at-bats during his first game at Tropicana Field since being traded by the Rays to Oakland in January. Zobrist, obtained by the Royals from the Athletics on July 28, played nine years for Tampa Bay and received a standing ovation after a video tribute was shown on the scoreboard prior to the game.
THE CLOSE ONES
Seven of the Rays’ last 10 games have been decided by one run. The Rays have are 22-23 in one-run games and 38-36 in 74 games decided by one or two runs, the most in the majors.
Royals: LF Alex Gordon, out since July 9 with a strained left groin, played in his sixth game with Triple-A Omaha.
Rays: OF Steven Souza Jr. (broken left hand) is looking to return in mid-September. He has sidelined been since Aug. 2.
Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-6) and Royals RHP Kris Medlen (2-0) are Saturday night’s scheduled starters. Odorizzi has five straight no-decisions, which ties the Tampa Bay team record set by current Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland in 2000.
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