CLEVELAND (AP) -The All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for the
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays hope to rest, regroup, then resume baseball's feel-good story after finishing the first half on a sour note.
drove in three runs and the
and Tampa Bay 5-2 Sunday, handing the Rays their season-worst seventh straight loss and dropping them out of first in the
''I hate what just happened this week, but we're sitting in a very good spot,'' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays' skid is their longest since an eight-game losing streak last July. They had won seven in a row to open a five-game
lead last Monday.
''We totally massacred our seven-game winning streak,'' said Maddon, adding that he'll meet with the club Thursday before
opening the second half with a six-game homestand.
The Indians entered the series having lost 10 straight, their worst streak since 1979, but outscored the Rays 31-8 to extend
their home winning streak over Tampa Bay to 13. The Rays have not won in Cleveland since Sept. 29, 2005, and dropped 18 of
the last 20 meetings overall.
The Rays, who fell a half-game behind Boston for the division lead, went hitless after the third inning against Indians starter
and four relievers.
''We played poorly here,'' Maddon said. ''We're not swinging the bats. We pitched less. Defensively, everything was just out
of our reach. They outplayed us.''
Peralta's two-run homer off Kazmir (7-5) in the fifth gave Cleveland a 4-2 lead.
(1-2) pitched two perfect innings to earn the win and
, the Indians' fifth pitcher, worked the ninth for his fifth save.
After Sowers issued a pair of one-out walks in the fourth, he struck out B.J. Upton and
to start a string of the final 17 Tampa Bay batters going down in order.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second despite not putting a ball in play. Sowers walked four, committed a balk, and struck
out the side during a strange 41-pitch inning that included Indians manager
's ejection by plate umpire Kerwin Danley.
After fanning All-Star
, Sowers walked
. With an 0-2 count on
, Gomes broke for second as Sowers threw to first and Danley ruled the left-hander balked. Wedge yelled from the dugout in
After Gomes stole third and Riggans also walked, Wedge questioned Danley's strike zone, too, and was tossed for the third
time this season.
, then walked both
to force in a run.
''The umpire had a pretty tough strike zone, but I have to do a better job earlier in the game of earning the zone,'' Sowers
said. ''It was a pretty bizarre inning.''
Riggans' RBI single in the third made it 2-0 but Cleveland tied it in the bottom half.
singled off Longoria's glove at third, took third on
's one-out single, and scored on
's base hit to right. Peralta drove in Carroll with a sacrifice fly.
opened the Indians' fifth with a walk and scored on Peralta's two-out homer, the shortstop's 16th of the season and fourth
in seven games.
made it 5-2 with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
''We played some pretty good baseball the last four days against a very good team,'' Wedge said.
Sowers had the oddest outing of his young career. The left-hander gave up three hits and two runs over four innings, setting
career highs of seven walks and eight strikeouts. In his first 196 innings in the majors, the first-round pick in the 2004
draft had only 53 walks and 77 strikeouts.
Kazmir, one of Tampa Bay's three All-Stars, gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings, dropping to 1-4 in his last
seven starts since June 11 following a six-game winning streak.
''It's been a great first half,'' Kazmir said. ''There are going to be times like this in a season. We're going to go through
a bump or a slow stage, but we have to be able to bounce back. We have to not dwell on this.''
Notes: Tampa Bay is 36-14 and 19-25 on the road. ... According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians' home winning streak over
Tampa Bay is the longest current one of its kind in the majors. The Indians defeated the
15 straight in Cleveland from 1994 to 1997. ... Marte's homer was his first in the majors since April 4, 2007. ... Sizemore
has 23 homers and is the first Indians player to lead the AL in that category at the All-Star break since
(26) in 2001. ... Rays OF
, in the worst hitless streak of his career (0-for-25) didn't play. ... Rays DH
went 0-for-3 and is in a 1-for-16 skid.