After earning one of the American League's two wild card berths by winning 10 games in a row to end the regular season, the Indians could not come through with the big hit they needed in the one-game playoff with the Rays.
Tampa Bay thus won two road games in three days over Texas and Cleveland to gain a spot in the best-of-five AL Division series against Boston, which begins at Fenway Park on Friday. Boston captured 12 of its 18 games against the Rays during the regular season.
Delmon Young hit the first pitch of the third inning from Cleveland rookie Danny Salazar over the wall in left to put the Rays in front and they took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on a two-run, two-out double from Desmond Jennings. Yunel Escobar singled in the Rays' final run in the ninth.
The game, however, revolved around Cleveland's inability to take advantage of its 10 base runners -- especially the excellent scoring chances they had against Cobb in the fourth and fifth innings.
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the fourth only to have Asdrubal Cabrera ground into a double play.
The Indians then put runners on first and third with nobody out in the fifth, but three consecutive batters were unable to get the ball out of the infield.
Cobb also put two men on with one out in the seventh before Joel Peralta came on to escape the jam. Cobb, who had an 11-3 regular-season record, got the win after giving up eight hits with five strikeouts in his 6 2/3 innings of work.
Fernando Rodney struck out two in a perfect ninth to secure the shutout.
Salazar did not join the Cleveland rotation until July, but was given the crucial start by Indians Manager Terry Francona after compiling a 3.12 ERA and striking out 65 in 52 innings.
The rookie starter gave up three runs on four hits in four innings to suffer the loss.