Published November 20, 2014
The Tampa Bay Rays stumbled at home, again.
The Rays were coming off a three-game sweep at Houston where they scored 26 runs. Tampa Bay (44-35) dropped to 18-19 at home, where it is averaging just 3.1 runs a game.
"That was a bad game," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "We just aren't, offensively, playing the same game here. The answer, I don't know what it is. I honestly don't."
Even All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria looked a different player after Tampa Bay's 5-1 road trip. One day after going 4 for 6 with two homers and five RBIs against the Astros, he was hitless in three at-bats, committed an error and made a key baserunning blunder.
With two on and no outs in the sixth, Matt Joyce hit a flyball to left that outfielder Fred Lewis helped turn into a double play when Longoria, the baserunner at first, ran past teammate Ben Zobrist for an automatic out. Casey Kotchman then had an inning-ending grounder.
"Just not analyzing the situation," Longoria said. "I was convinced it was going to get down. He tracked it down and we all know what happened."
Gomes, the former Rays' outfielder playing at Tropicana Field for the first time since becoming a free agent after the 2008 season, hit a solo shot off an overhanging catwalk during a two-run fourth that made it 4-0. Brandon Phillips, who had four hits and two RBIs, added a run-scoring single off Jeremy Hellickson (7-7) later in the inning.
Gomes has hit nine fair balls off the catwalks, the most at the St. Petersburg ballpark since it opened in 1998.
"It was a good opportunity to show the Reds the guidelines on the catwalk," Gomes said with a smile. "I haven't been here for a while, so I saw some familiar faces. A good opportunity to come back to the Trop."
Many of the announced crowd of 19,891 cheered for Gomes, who played for the Rays from 2003-08, after his homer.
"The fans' response showed you how popular he was here in Tampa Bay," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Leake (7-4) scattered four hits, walked two and had three strikeouts in ending a personal two-start losing streak.
Hellickson lost his fourth consecutive start, giving up four runs and eight hits in six innings. Over the right-hander's skid, Tampa Bay has been outscored 20-1.
"They're doing their best up there," Hellickson said. "We've been facing some good pitching. Early on I was getting good run support, so it's not something I'm worried about."
Cincinnati went up 2-0 in the first when Phillips drove in a run with a double and Jay Bruce hit an RBI single. The Reds had lost six of nine.
Bruce, who missed Sunday's game with flulike symptoms, was back in the lineup and went 1 for 4.
NOTES: It was the first time Baker was involved in a game at Tropicana Field. "Quite new for me," he said. "Quite new for a lot of us." ... Longoria was charged with an error for misplaying Paul Janish's fourth-inning grounder. ... Hellickson struck out nine and walked one. ... The Rays are 0-7 all-time against Cincinnati, the only team they have never beaten. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (8-6) faces Reds RHP Johnny Cueto (6-2) in Tuesday night's game.