ARLINGTON -- Robbie Ross Jr. still harbors hope of being a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Given the ravaged state of the Rangers' rotation, there is still an opportunity for somebody -- anybody -- to make an impression.
But even after getting turned around at Tripl-A Round Rock, Ross knows he has to show better than what he did on Thursday night in a 6-3 loss to the Rays.
"Obviously this is disappointing to have this happen," Ross said. "They need guys to do better. Right now you need to battle and seize an opportunity. This one wasn't a good one, hopefully, the next one will be better."
Ross was called up from Round Rock on Thursday after Yu Darvish was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. Ross started off great, striking out the side in the first inning, but then it fell apart after that and the Rangers lost for the third time in four games to the Rays.
They are 9-17 since the All-Star break. The highlight of the night for the Rangers was the work of rookie relievers Alex Claudio, Roman Mendez and Phil Klein combining for 4 2/3 scoreless innings after Ross exited with one out in the fifth.
"They did a good job," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
But the Rangers really need help in a starting rotation that took another hit when Darvish joined Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez on the disabled list. The Rangers are still hoping Holland will pitch again this year but, pitching for Round Rock, he allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings in his fourth start on medical rehab on Thursday.
Ross was called up after going 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA in his last five starts at Round Rock. But against the Rays he allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
"I felt good, but obviously the outcome wasn't what I wished it could have been," Ross said. "I wanted to go longer and keep us in the game. I just started to be too fine and pick around the zone rather than go right after hitters. It came back and bit me."
Rays starter Jake Odorizzi earned the victory by allowing two runs in seven innings. The Rangers' only runs off him came on a home run by Geovany Soto, his first of the season. Rougned Odor added an eighth-inning home run off reliever Jeff Beliveau.
After striking out the side in the first, Ross retired the first two hitters on ground balls in the second. Then Yunel Escobar reached on an infield single before Logan Forsythe jumped on an 0-2 fastball and hit it over the left-field wall for a two-run home run.
"I knew his cutter was working pretty well," Forsythe said. "My thought on that pitch was let it travel a little bit and see it back through the middle. Just try to get my hands inside. Luckily I got the hands far enough out front."
The Rays made it 4-0 in the third as Brandon Guyer singled with one out. Ross retired Ben Zobrist on a fly to right, but Guyer then stole second and scored on a single by Evan Longoria. A wild pitch moved Longoria to second and he scored on a single by James Loney.
Soto cut the Rays' lead in half with his home run in the bottom of the fourth, but Ross couldn't keep it close. Instead he walked Zobrist with one out and gave up a two-run home run to Longoria a half-inning later.
"The first inning, he kept the ball down and hit his spots well," Washington said. "Then he started missing his spots and elevated the ball. I didn't see an issue with his confidence. He just missed with some of his pitches and lost his command."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.