LOS ANGELES – The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a rare hidden ball trick at Dodger Stadium. Their hitters were kept well hidden as well, thanks to Zack Greinke's strong effort.
The Rays managed six hits during Greinke's 6 1-3 innings, including doubles by Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce. They fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday, matching their longest losing streak of the season at four.
Longoria tagged out the unsuspecting Juan Uribe in the fourth inning when the 13-year veteran lifted his foot off the third base bag while chatting with coach Tim Wallach. The play occurred after A.J. Ellis hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, with all three runners moving up as center fielder Wil Myers threw toward the plate.
First baseman James Loney wound up with the ball behind the mound. The former Dodger flipped it to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who then quickly tossed the ball to Longoria while no one seemed to be looking.
"I know that Yuni is always looking to do it," Longoria said. "Usually when a play like happens, the pitcher is right around the mound and you don't have a whole lot of time before the umpires call time. I had just walked around behind Uribe, and Hernandez was still walking back from behind the plate to the mound."
"I was just kind of waving my hand to see if Loney would see me, and he did. But he threw the ball to Yuni — which was the best part of the play, because it was indirect. Once I got the ball, I just kind of waited there. He barely took his foot off the base and I tagged him. It really was the one highlight of the day for us," he said.
Longoria stood behind Uribe and waited for the right moment to trap him. Umpire Angel Hernandez was right on the play, watching the whole time, and made the out call.
"It's a play that I always have in the back of my mind through the course of a game," Escobar said through a translator. "Guys were going everywhere, so it happened to be a good situation where I thought we might be able to tag Uribe out. The umpire was standing there and knew what was going on right away, and the only one that didn't know what was going on was Uribe."
"I've tried it four or five other times this year and never got anybody out in the big leagues. But in the minor leagues, I got four or five guys out," Escobar said.
Later in the game, Uribe made his way around to third base. He and Longoria exchanged playful pats.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Roberto Hernandez (6-12), and Los Angeles led the whole way.
"I'm not concerned, because the esprit de corps is fabulous," manager Joe Maddon said. "We're just playing a very good team right now and they got us. We just got outpitched and outplayed today."
Hernandez gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings. It was the fifth time in eight games that Maddon had to replace his starting pitcher before the fifth inning was over. Prior to this stretch, the team got at least five innings from a starter in 32 consecutive games.
Tampa Bay has totaled just 15 runs in Hernandez's 12 losses while he was in the game. The right-hander is 1-11 with a 6.19 ERA in his last 14 road starts since beating the White Sox on Aug. 17, 2011.
"He was just not sharp today, and you could see that from Jump Street," Maddon said. "He didn't have really good stuff. He told me the ball was not moving like it normally does for him and it was kind of flat."
Greinke (10-3) struck out seven and walked one. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner is 6-1 with a 2.49 ERA in his 10 home starts.
The Dodgers' bullpen finished the job, lowering its ERA since the All-Star break to 1.89. Former Rays left-hander J.P. Howell retired both batters he faced in the seventh and rookie Chris Withrow pitched two scoreless innings.
NOTES: Hernandez is 19-49 in 84 career starts in which he has allowed a home run. ... Tampa Bay has committed just seven errors in its last 44 games, including closer Fernando Rodney's game-ending throwing miscue in the ninth inning Friday night after the Rays blew a 6-0 lead. ... Tampa Bay RHP Jamey Wright, who made 66 relief appearances for the Dodgers last year, has played more seasons in the majors (18) than any active player who hasn't been to the postseason. The Rays are his 10th big league club.