The Rays entered Thursday night looking for their fourth consecutive series win. They ended the night with a series loss to the last place Cardinals and dropped another game back of the Orioles, who beat the Astros to avoid a series sweep.
Zach Littell got the start for the Rays and once again proved to be a fine addition to a battered Rays rotation. The Cardinals sent former Rays prospect, Matthew Liberatore, to the mound, and he was dominant. The southpaw entered the night with an ERA north of six, but tossed a gem to earn his second win of the year.
Littell tossed six strong innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked none. Two of the three runs came on a two run blast off the bat of Andrew Knizner in the top of the fourth. In the sixth, an Alec Burleson RBI single drove home Nolan Arenado and extended the Cards lead to 3-0.
Cooper Criswell threw the final three innings for the Rays and surrendered an additional two runs. In the seventh, Taylor Motter scored on what should have been a double play, but Criswell failed to get over to first base in time to receive the throw from Wander Franco.
Then, in the ninth, Tommy Edman hit his eighth homer of the year to extend the lead to 5-0.
At the plate, the Rays were overpowered by Matthew Liberatore for the first eight innings. The rookie tossed eight shutout innings. He struck out seven batters, walked none, and only allowed two hits.
The only bright spot at the plate was Wander Franco who recorded another two hits, one of them being an RBI triple in the 9th inning. Yandy Diaz scored on the play to make the score 5-1. Franco later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 5-2.
Typically, when a team goes without a hit from the fourth inning until the ninth inning, things do not turn out well. They didn't, and the Rays lost. They are now three games back of the first place Orioles.