ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alex Cobb split 86 pitches evenly between balls and strikes. And that wasn't exactly a good thing.
Cobb allowed three runs and five hits over 3 1/3 innings in the Tampa Bay Rays' 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
"Usually when those games are happening, I'm able to make an adjustment — whatever mechanically I'm doing wrong," Cobb said. "And I wasn't able to do it."
After winning his first two starts of the season, Cobb (4-6) has gone 2-6 with a 5.59 ERA in eight starts.
"There were a lot of pitches up," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Just didn't have that feel tonight."
Maddon and Tampa Bay executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman talked behind closed doors for around 30 minutes after the Rays lost for the 12th time in 16 games. Topics included the status of injured players, such as outfielder Matt Joyce nearing a return from a minor league rehab assignment.
Zach McAllister (4-1) shrugged off being struck in his pitching arm by a line drive to finish six solid innings for the Indians. The right-hander got hit on the top of the right forearm by Jeff Keppinger's RBI single in the fourth inning. He remained in the game to retire the next six batters and eight of the last nine he faced overall.
"Every game that you lose is frustrating," Rays DH Luke Scott said. "But mentally you've got to choose to make a shift and you've got to look at the positives. You've got to look at how we battled. Guys hit the ball hard. They made good plays on defense. You've got to focus on the positive things, take today and kick it out."
Shin-Soo Choo had a RBI double in the third after he had what initially was ruled a home run overturned by instant replay in the first for Cleveland.
The umpires huddled after Rays center fielder B.J. Upton signaled that the ball hit high off the wall instead of clearing it and bouncing back onto the field. Choo was sent back to second base and eventually scored on a passed ball that gave the Indians an early lead on Cobb.
Choo scored again in the third when Jason Kipnis doubled to make it 3-0.
McAllister allowed one run and three hits before being replaced by Esmil Rogers, who yielded a first-pitch home run to Desmond Jennings leading off the seventh. A pair of two-out walks put the potential tying run in scoring position before the third Indians pitcher of the inning, Vinnie Pestano, came on to strike out Ben Zobrist.
Pestano fanned pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad to escape another jam with two men on in the eighth. Chris Perez worked a perfect ninth, earning his 26th save in 28 opportunities.
Pitching on seven days' rest, McAllister made his second consecutive start against the Rays. He retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced against them at home on July 8, but wound allowing four runs and four hits over 5 2/3 innings and was not involved in the decision of a 7-6 loss.
The 24-year-old right-hander walked three and needed 41 pitches to get through the first two innings this time. He held the Rays hitless until B.J. Upton singled, leading off the fourth. Luke Scott followed with a single and Keppinger drove in Tampa Bay's first run when he lined a pitch that struck McAllister on his follow-through.
Cleveland's trainer examined the spot where McAllister said he was hit, and the pitcher remained in the game. He avoided further damage in the inning when Jennings bounced into a double play and Jose Molina grounded out.
Meanwhile, the Indians wasted several opportunities to build on their early lead. They loaded the bases with no outs, yet failed to score in the fourth and began the fifth with a double and walk only to strand a runner at third.
Cleveland was 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position through five innings and finished 2 for 12.
Notes: Joyce has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a left external oblique strain. ... Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) may travel with the team to continue workouts during a road trip that begins next Tuesday at Baltimore.