ARLINGTON -- Jeremy Hellickson pitched well enough to win, but the Rays left their bats in Toronto. As a result, they suffered their 13th shutout of the season in a 2-0 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark with 23,069 watching.
In defeat, the Rays (73-61) took their second consecutive loss while moving to 3-2 on their current seven-game road trip. But most significant was the news from Boston, where the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 5-2, which translated to the Rays finding themselves 8 1/2 games behind the Wild Card-leading Yankees with 28 games remaining in the season.
"Time is running out because of these kinds of losses," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to figure out a way to win these kinds of games."
Hellickson started for the Rays and looked in control while holding the Rangers scoreless through five innings, nicely escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fourth along the way. But Josh Hamilton disrupted Hellickson's smooth sailing when he led off the sixth.
The slugger went for Hellickson's first offering and launched a rocket 449 feet into the upper deck in right field.
"That was properly struck," Maddon said. "That would have done Robert Redford proud right there."
Asked where Hamilton's shot would have landed had he hit it at Tropicana Field, the Rays' manager quipped: "That would have hit the back wall. It would have hit the scoreboard. It would have hit his image I believe."
Hellickson was candid about the pitch he threw Hamilton.
"Right down the middle," Hellickson said. "Right where he likes it. I missed by a couple of feet."
David Murphy added an RBI single in the inning to put the Rangers up 2-0, but Hellickson escaped his second bases-loaded jam to avoid a big inning.
"I just missed with some pitches, starting with the first pitch of the [sixth] inning," Hellickson said. "They took advantage of it."
Hellickson allowed two runs on six hits in six innings to take his 10th loss.
"They're a very good lineup," Hellickson said. "I thought I pitched well enough. I pitched out of two bases-loaded jams -- could have got out of hand. [My] fastball felt really good coming out of my hand. Changeup felt good. That one inning I just missed my spot a few times."
Though Hellickson took the loss, he left a favorable impression on the Rangers while recording his 16th quality start of the season.
"He was good," Michael Young said. "That was the first time we've seen him and he had a good idea of how to pitch. He commands his fastball and has a good changeup. He was good."
Unfortunately for Hellickson, Rays hitters could not get anything going after a four-game set in Toronto that saw them score 27 runs. Hellickson has now received one run or fewer 10 times this season.
Meanwhile, Rangers starter Scott Feldman yielded only two hits over six shutout innings to claim his first win of the season. For the right-hander, the win was his first as a starter since June 18, 2010, at Houston.
"He's a sinker, cutter type of guy," B.J. Upton said. "That's what he does. Not really much you can do about it. He kept the ball down, he didn't elevate much and that's what you're going to get with that type of guy."
Added Maddon: "Very competitive, he's always pitched well against us."
After Feldman left, the Rangers used Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and finally Neftali Feliz to get the final nine outs. The Rays did manage to mount a threat in the ninth after pinch-hitter Sam Fuld singled to right to start the inning and Feliz walked Desmond Jennings. Johnny Damon then reached base on a fielder's choice to put runners at first and third with one out. But Evan Longoria hit into a 4-6-3 double-play to end the game.
All told, the Rays managed just five baserunners on the night, three had hits and two walked. Tampa Bay has not been shut out as many times as it has this season since 2004, and 12 of the 13 blankings have come since June 1, a span of 80 games. On the other side of the coin, Texas recorded its American League-leading 16th shutout of the season.
"We just have to figure out a way to beat some of these pitchers we're facing now," Maddon said. "I've always talked about in the past that to go to the playoffs you have to beat good pitchers. [We've had] too many of these games, too many 1-0, 2-0 losses. We have to get beyond that. There are no excuses. We have to figure out a way to score runs against some of these guys."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.