ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lucas Harrell was demoted to the Astros bullpen because of his struggles as a starter. Things haven't gotten any better.
Harrell gave up Luck Scott's go-ahead single in the sixth inning and Houston blew a three-run lead in a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.After taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of Brett Wallace's two-run home run, the Astros never got a man as far as second base the rest of the way in their 11th loss in 14 games."When you're called on, you have to go up there and get people out," Harrell said. "It doesn't matter what the situation is, you have to go out there and make pitches."Harrell (5-10) relieved Dallas Keuchel with one out in the fifth inning and got Evan Longoria to ground out. But Wil Myers singled and stole second. Scott then drove in the go-ahead run."The quality of their at-bats seemed to get better real fast," Porter said. "We put Harrell down in the bullpen with the notion that we're going to continue to make sure he's built up with the possibility of going back in the rotation, and I saw that as an opportunity for him to not only get into the game at a good point ... but also to give us extended innings through the rest of the game."Harrell walked two in the seventh and was done.Keuchel was in command through the first four innings, but the Rays scored three times in the fifth. He gave up six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings and would've preferred to go beyond 80 pitches."That's just my mentality, I thought I deserved it," Keuchel said. "But it's his decision so it is what it is."Roberto Hernandez (5-10) and three relievers gave up two singles and a walk over the final eight innings. One of the runners was picked off and one was doubled up.Scott hit a two-run homer in the fifth to pull the Rays to 3-2. Yunel Escobar then doubled, stole third base and scored on Ian Desmond's bunt hit."They're little things that mount up in the course of a game, and I think that's indicative of what we've been doing as a lineup," Scott said. "Guys up and down the lineup are contributing all sorts of things with the bat, with the legs."Hernandez (5-10) survived a shaky first inning to post the Rays' 14th straight quality start, going six innings and giving up three runs and six hits. He won for the first time in six starts since June 11.Myers had two hits and scored twice for the Rays, who have won 13 of 15. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.The Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Carlos Pena's leadoff single, Wallace's two-run homer, doubles by Jason Castro and Justin Maxwell and J.D. Martinez's RBI groundout.
Rays RHP Alex Cobb is scheduled to pitch batting practice Sunday for the first time since being struck on the ear by a line drive on June 15. Cobb, who has had three bullpen sessions since his concussion, is hopeful of a return in early August. ... The Astros activated Maxwell, who sustained a concussion on June 25. Maxwell took the roster spot of RHP Jarred Cosart, who won his major league debut here Friday night . . . Pena, the all-time home run leader at Tropicana Field with 86, led off for Houston for the first time.
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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 13: Pitcher Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays...