ARLINGTON -- The Rays went to the five-man infield in the 14th inning and managed to live for another out. But they couldn't get the out that mattered most and took a 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
Adam Rosales became the out that never was when Cesar Ramos walked him on four pitches with the bases loaded to gift the Rangers the walk-off win.
The Rays (58-61) are 4-4 on the current road trip and 34-19 since June 11. Prior to that date, the team had lost 14 of 15.
Ramos started the 14th for the Rays, becoming the team's seventh pitcher of the game. With one out, Geovany Soto reached on a fielding error by Evan Longoria. Rougned Odor followed with a single before Shin-Soo Choo dropped a single over shortstop Ben Zobrist's head to load the bases.
At that point, Yunel Escobar entered the game in place of left-fielder Brandon Guyer so the Rays could play a five-man infield.
Despite having just two outfielders and the outfield shifted to the right, right fielder Kevin Kiermaier caught right-handed hitting Elvis Andrus' flyout to short right.
"I was hoping [that would help him escape the jam]," Ramos said. "That's the plan. I wasn't trying to get too far ahead of myself. I was just trying to get one out and then the next one. I was trying to get Andrus to hit a ground ball. He got underneath that enough to hit a popup. Fortunately [Kiermaier] was there to catch it."
Kiermaier had already thrown out a runner at the plate earlier in the night, so the Rangers respectfully declined to send pinch-runner Nick Martinez from third.
That brought Rosales to the plate and, suddenly, Ramos could not find the strike zone.
"I knew he had to come to me, so I had to be patient," Rosales said. "That's usually my approach, but especially with the bases loaded and the game on the line."
Rosales accepted his walk to force home the winning run.
"I just put myself in a hole, going 2-0, 3-0, walking him in," Ramos said. "That's just unacceptable on my part at that point. Getting those two outs and having an opportunity to get out of it and to lose it like that is unacceptable.
"...I'd rather give up a hit than give a guy a free base. Especially doing it on four pitches."
Rays manager Joe Maddon clearly shared that sentiment, he couldn't throw Ramos under the bus.
"Ground ball in the hole, blooper to left," said Maddon running through the sequence of events in the 14th. "Error, and then a walk. They didn't go out there and club him to death. It was a case, kind of victimized a bit."
Everything appeared to be trending in the right direction for the Rays in the early going when they experienced a nice turn of events that began in the bottom of the fifth. Leonys Martin singled off Jeremy Hellickson to start the inning. Soto then grounded to Hellickson, who threw to second baseman Logan Forsythe, who made a swipe tag at the sliding Martin, then threw to first.
Initially, Martin was ruled safe, but Maddon challenged the call and the ruling on the field was overturned. The next hitter, Odor, singled to center -- a hit that would have driven home Martin had he not been called out.
The Rays' offense then got into gear in the sixth when Desmond Jennings tripled off Nick Tepesch to lead off the inning. Zobrist's sacrifice fly drove in Jennings before Matt Joyce connected for the second triple of the inning -- and the team's fourth in two nights -- and continued home on an error by Odor.
Hellickson pitched out of a jam in the bottom half when the Rangers had runners on second and third with one out. The Rays right-hander calmly dispatched Jim Adduci on a check-swing strikeout before retiring J.P. Arencibia on a ground out to end the inning.
Hellickson did not allow a run on six hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings but came away with a no-decision after Joel Peralta could not hold the lead after taking over in the seventh.
Martin singled off Peralta to start the inning. Soto followed with a double to left to put runners at second and third. Odor's sacrifice fly scored Martin and Choo doubled to right to score Soto and tie the score at 2. The Rangers would have taken the lead had Kiermaier not thrown out Choo at the plate when he tried to score on Andrus' single to right.
Adrian Beltre drew a walk from Jeff Beliveau to start the Rangers' eighth and Adduci's sacrifice bunt moved Beltre to second. Brad Boxberger took over for Beliveau and struck out Arencibia for the second out. Martin then hit a deep drive to center field that Jennings tore after, hauling in the drive one step before running into the wall for the run-saving third out of the inning.
Jennings knocked his hat off, but never went down. Boxberger applauded his teammate as he made his way to the Rays' dugout.
Jennings' catch would clearly have made him the hero had the Rays managed to win. But they could not, and the Rangers, who have endured a tough season, felt pretty good.
"Gratifying, it was really gratifying to get that win," Soto said. "After 14 innings, it's gratifying to come out of here with a win. It was a really good game, good pitching, good defense. Everybody battled, everybody on the team. It feels good."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.