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Rays vs. White Sox: Tampa Bay falls, 3-1, in crucial game against Chicago

The Tampa Bay Rays dropped a 3-1 decision to the Chicago White Sox on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, taking a step in the wrong direction if they are going to earn a playoff berth.

Ben Zobrist gave the Rays a 1-0 lead with a two-out homer in the first inning, but that was all the scoring the Tampa Bay hitters would be able to produce. The Rays managed just two hits over the next eight innings: singles by Luke Scott and Jeff Keppinger.

Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 3.20 ERA) didn't pitch poorly, but without much run support, he couldn't avoid the loss. Hellickson gave up three runs -- two earned -- on nine hits in 5⅔ innings. Gavin Floyd (11-11, 4.47 ERA) picked up the win for Chicago, allowing a run on two hits in five innings. Addison Reed recorded two outs in the ninth inning to earn his 29th save.

The loss wasn't a crushing blow to the Rays' playoff hopes, but it certainly didn't help. The American League East race is all but over, as the New York Yankees hold a five-game lead with five to play. Tampa Bay is now 2½ games out of the final AL Wild Card spot.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.