ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The digging was great, but the hole was just too deep for the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Burdened with a six-run deficit after just two innings of a brutal Ryan Yarbrough start, the Rays scratched and clawed their way back into the game, but couldn’t get all the way back in a 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox .
The Rays cut the lead to one in the sixth inning with a four-run outburst, the last two coming on a two-run homer from struggling catcher Mike Zunino with two outs.
But the Rays couldn’t threaten again. Of the next 10 batters, only Yandy Diaz reached base, and he got picked off. Kendall Gravemen pitched a perfect eighth inning for Chicago, and closer Liam Hendriks had a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 16th save of the season.
The White Sox won their second straight series against the Rays this season. They won two of three games here this weekend, and also went 2-1 during a series in chilly Chicago in mid-April.
The White Sox scored four runs in the first with two doubles, two singles and a walk. Jake Burger, the hero from Saturday’s White Sox victory with his two-run homer, drove in two runs with his double and Yasmani Grandal singled in the other two runs.
In the second inning, Chicago second baseman Josh Harrison, his No. 9 hitter, led off with a double and he scored on a double to right by Andrew Vaughn, who then scored on a single by Luis Robert. After Burger doubled at Grandal walked in, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash had seen enough, and Yarbrough got the hook with two outs in the second. The Rays were trailing 6-0 at the time.
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The Rays started clawing back in the fifth inning, with a lead-off home run off of Chicago starter Lucas Giolito from Rays second baseman Isaac Paredes, his fourth of the season.
They got after Giolito, who wound up throwing 109 pitches, when he started running on fumes. Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz led off with an infield single and went to third when first baseman Yasmani Grandal booted a ground ball off the bat of Ji-Man Choi. Harold Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Diaz, and then Randy Arozarena tripled to right to score Choi and make it 6-3.
One batter later, Zunino hit his two-run homer to make it 6-5, but the Rays couldn’t do anything after that.
The Rays’ bullpen had to cover 7 1/3 innings on Sunday after Yarbrough’s departure, and they didn’t allow a single run. Shawn Armstrong pitched 1 1/3 innings without allowing a hit. Ralph Garza Jr. came into the game in the fourth, and pitched 3 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits but worked his way out of trouble in every inning, not allowing a run.
After the Rays had pulled within a run, Jason Adam pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed just one hit and Andrew Kittredge, who came off the disabled list earlier in the day, pitched a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Rays are now 31-23 on the season, and are now a season-high eight games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. They are in third place now as well, falling a half-game behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
Watch Kevin Cash’s postgame press conference
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