Niemann fans 11, Rays blank MarinersJul 30, 2011 - 6:34 AM
Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer to highlight an eight-run second inning, and the Rays took advantage of a wild Erik Bedard in possibly his final start in a Mariners uniform.
Bedard (4-7), who has been mentioned in trade rumors leading to Sunday's deadline, didn't do much to improve his stock. The lefty, who was out a month due to a sprained left knee, was activated off the disabled list Friday, but he allowed three hits and four walks. Bedard was charged with five runs before being removed with one out in the second.
"He really had to work the first couple of innings," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We just couldn't push him any further than that. He was strong, stuff was good, but just erratic."
Niemann (5-4) sparkled by allowing just three hits. J.P. Howell and Brandon Gomes finished the final hitless two innings to give the Rays back-to-back wins for the first time since July 6-7 against Minnesota and the Yankees.
Niemann moved his career mark to 4-0 in six games against the Mariners. The righty improved to 4-0 over his last seven starts overall.
"He had 11 [strikeouts] and honestly wasn't as sharp as he could be," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He had 119 pitches after 6 2/3. That's the kind of game I'm looking for him to finish off possibly or at least go eight [innings]."
The Mariners, who snapped their franchise-worst 17-game losing skid with a 9-2 decision over the Yankees Wednesday, could never get on track offensively.
Bedard didn't help the matter, walking Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Desmond Jennings in succession to force in the game's first run. Johnny Damon then singled in two runs. Aaron Laffey entered from the bullpen, but balked, moving up the runners. Evan Longoria's grounder plated another. Then came Zobrist's blast to right field, which produced a 6-0 margin.
B.J. Upton walked ahead of a Casey Kotchman double and a Kelly Shoppach single off the wall in right field capped the uprising.
The rest was up to Niemann, and he left a runner at third in the third by retiring Brendan Ryan on a grounder to shortstop.
"That changes everything how the game is played," Niemann said of the 8-0 lead. "It made it a lot easier for the pitcher to go out there and do his job."
Niemann walked two, but fanned three the following inning and was lifted in the seventh with runners on first and second. Howell got Ichiro Suzuki to fly out. Gomes then retired all six batters he faced.
Bedard fell to 11-4 lifetime against Tampa Bay...The Rays are 3-5 on this 10- game road trip...The Mariners made a couple of other roster moves Friday. They designated outfielder Jack Cust for assignment to make room for Bedard. The M's also traded minor league outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Diamondbacks to clear a spot for newly-signed Wily Mo Pena at Triple-A Tacoma.
- TAMPA BAY: 8
Jul 30 1:11 AM
- Kelly Shoppach single to right scored Casey Kotchman with two out. Runner on first and Matt Joyce due up.
Rays 8, Mariners 0 Top 2, 2 OutsJul 29 11:02 PM
- Ben Zobrist two-out, two-run Home Run (14) to right scored Johnny Damon. B.J. Upton due up.
Rays 6, Mariners 0 Top 2, 2 OutsJul 29 10:56 PM
- Evan Longoria ground out short to first scored Desmond Jennings with two out. On the play, Johnny Damon advances to third. Runner on third and Ben Zobrist due up.
Rays 4, Mariners 0 Top 2, 2 OutsJul 29 10:55 PM
- Johnny Damon single to center scored Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez with one out. On the play, Desmond Jennings advances to second. Runners on first and second and Evan Longoria due up.
Rays 3, Mariners 0 Top 2, 1 OutJul 29 10:50 PM
- TAMPA BAY: 0
Top 1, 1 Out
Jul 29 10:12 PM
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