ST. PETERSBURG -- Monday night at Tropicana Field brought October baseball to mind -- that's October 2010 baseball for the Rays, a period when a lot went wrong in the American League Division Series thanks to the Rangers.
Texas rolled into Tropicana Field for its first encounter with Tampa Bay since eliminating the Rays from the postseason. Back in October, the Rangers took care of business by claiming three wins here during the best-of-five series. On Memorial Day, the Rangers seemed to be embracing an old friend in Tropicana Field during their 11-5 win with 14,203 watching.
"They just outplayed us tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They played well. They hit the ball well. Their starting pitcher got them deeper into the game."
By taking their seventh loss in their last 10 games, the Rays moved to 28-25 on the season and 2-2 on the current homestand. The Rays have played 13 consecutive games against teams with .500 or better records and they have gone 5-8.
Cliff Lee can no longer be counted among the Rangers' numbers, but the stalwart left-hander who dominated the Rays during the postseason wasn't really needed Monday night, given the way Rangers hitters took care of business -- mostly against Wade Davis.
Texas tallied seven runs on 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Rays starter with the big blow being struck by Mike Napoli, who just missed on a grand slam in the first before slugging a three-run homer in the third. Endy Chavez also managed to find the seats against Davis in the third.
Maddon thought Davis had good stuff and credited the Rangers hitters for their prowess with the bats rather than slighting his starter. Davis agreed with his manager's assessment.
"I felt great. It was just a game where if it was a little bit on the plate, they were finding holes," Davis said. "It was going somewhere in a hole, landing in center field somewhere. Made a mistake to Napoli and Chavez and that's part of the game."
Mitch Moreland added a solo homer off Brandon Gomes in the fourth and Napoli homered again in the sixth with a solo shot off Andy Sonnanstine that gave the Rangers a 9-1 lead.
Making matters worse for the Rays were the fielding woes experienced by shortstop Sean Rodriguez, who committed two throwing errors and another miscue when he could not cleanly handle a chance. The three errors snapped the team's Major League record 52-game streak with one error or less. Tampa Bay's previous multi-error game came in the 2010 regular-season finale at Kansas City.
"We'll just have to build another [streak]," Maddon said. "Sean's a very good defender. He plays all positions well. He's played a good shortstop for us, too, the last couple of games. It's just one of those moments tonight."
While the Rays were clearly experiencing less than their top game of the season, they showed heart by never sacking the bats.
Justin Ruggiano sparked a four-run Rays sixth with a three-run homer, which marked his first hit since being selected from Triple-A Durham on May 20. Monday night's start was only his fourth appearance in a game for the Rays this season.
"It felt good, it felt good to get an average," Ruggiano said. "I've been getting a few at-bats here and there. Missing a few pitches. So I was glad to finally put the ball in play hard somewhere. It was a little bittersweet coming in a losing effort. But it was good to get that first one out of the way and hopefully there's more to come."
Ruggiano's blast chased Rangers starter Derek Holland in favor of Mark Lowe, who struggled. When the Rays loaded the bases with two outs and trailing 9-5, B.J. Upton stepped to the plate representing the tying run. But Lowe struck him out swinging at a 2-2 slider.
Holding a four-run lead, the Rangers got back to work in the eighth by posting a two-spot. A Napoli double drove home one of the runs, giving the Rangers catcher five RBIs on the night.
By the time the Rangers' bats were finally sheathed, they had accounted for 11 runs and 20 hits on the evening.
"That team is one team that is not going to quit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the Rays. "They keep playing hard. They made up eight runs in one game against us. Fortunately we kept putting runs on the board."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.