PHOENIX (AP) Robbie Ray is still learning, not unlike many young starters. But his fifth-inning struggles are affecting Arizona's entire pitching staff.
''He looked so good,'' manager Chip Hale said after the Diamondbacks lost 6-4 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night. ''He was rolling. He swung the bat great. I didn't want to take him out. I wanted his bat in there, but it is just that bugaboo in the fifth inning.''
At issue is Ray's reaction when adversity strikes.
The 24-year-old Ray (2-5) held the Rays to two hits over the first three innings. In the fourth, Tampa Bay scratched out a run on three straight singles.
Then in the fifth, Mikie Mahtook doubled, Tim Beckham homered and Ray responded by walking the next two hitters. He struck out Steven Souza Jr. for the first out of the inning but gave up an RBI double to Desmond Jennings, ending his night.
The outing nearly mirrored Ray's effort against Colorado on April 29, when he gave up two home runs in the fourth and consecutive homers in the fifth before exiting without getting an out in his final inning.
''Instead of slowing things down and going back to what I do, I try to do too much,'' Ray said. ''That is when I leave the ball up and it hurts me. I've just got to remember I can pitch and get groundballs and get guys out.''
Ray has lasted fewer than five innings four times this season and exactly five twice more - and those short outings take a toll on an already-thin Arizona bullpen. Hale used three relievers Monday.
''He is a young kid,'' Hale said. ''We forget that sometimes, but we need him to get through the fifth and not have to use our whole bullpen when he pitches.''
Hale said pitching coach Mike Butcher talked to Ray after his exit.
''(He) basically laid down the line, saying, `You are going to have to find a way to get through the fifth inning,''' Hale said. ''`You are better than that.'''
Ray did contribute at the plate, hitting his first career home run in the third to give the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Paul Goldschmidt added an RBI double in the inning to make it 2-0.
After the Rays took a 5-2 lead with their four-run fifth against Ray, David Peralta homered in the sixth to make it 5-3.
Peralta was making his first appearance since May 15, when he was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right wrist.
Jennings homered in the seventh, the last of his three hits, to put the Rays ahead 6-2. Arizona scored in the bottom half on a bases-loaded walk to Welington Castillo. Xavier Cedeno came on to strike out pinch-hitter Brandon Drury and end the threat.
Rays starter Chris Archer (4-7) went six innings, allowing three runs and five hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts. The Diamondbacks have struck out 30 times in their past two games.
''I really would have liked to go deeper, but I had to do what I had to do,'' Archer said. ''When you strike a lot of people out, your pitch count is going to be high.''
Alex Colome, appearing in his fourth straight game, pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save in as many chances.
Before the game, the Diamondbacks activated Peralta from the 15-day disabled list and optioned RHP Silvino Bracho to Triple-A Reno. In 33 games prior to his injury, Peralta was hitting .260 with seven doubles, three triples, three homers and 12 RBIs.
Ray's home run leading off the third was his third hit of the season. He became the first Arizona pitcher to homer since Wade Miley on April 22, 2013, at San Francisco. It was the first home run by a Diamondbacks pitcher at Chase Field since Daniel Hudson connected on July 17, 2011, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Matt Moore (2-3) starts Tuesday night for Tampa Bay against Zack Greinke (7-3).