DETROIT — Manager Joe Maddon started Thursday laughing about coming up with a lineup that matched up positionally with the 867-5309 phone number in the once-popular song Jenny by Tommy Tutone.
But it wasn't too funny when the Rays had to ring up the bullpen early to bail out starter Erik Bedard, who allowed three home runs in the first inning and lasted only two total in an ugly 8-1 loss to the Tigers.
"Nothing was really there for him, and they just jumped all over it," Maddon said. "Everything they hit was right on the screws. They were well struck."
The lopsided defeat halted the Rays' seasonlong five-game winning streak and saddled them with their 50th loss before Fourth of July fireworks were lit.
But looking bigger picture at the 14-of-21 run that created optimism that their season was not lost, Maddon refused to see Thursday's poor result as any more than one bad day.
"We weren't going to win the rest of our games," he said. "So for me, again, it's about winning series."
The Rays figured to be in for a tough night anyway, having lost 14 of their past 20 to the Tigers, and starting three rookies against mighty Max Scherzer. They were held to a season-low two hits.
Desmond Jennings doubled on the game's first pitch (and came around on two flyouts to score) and James Loney singled with two outs in the fourth, and that was it.
"I don't even know if that was the best I've seen him," Matt Joyce said. "He's a good pitcher, and you're not going to put up a ton of runs. He's tough. You've got to grind and battle every at-bat. We had some guys who'd never seen him before. The first time you see him is tough."
Bedard made it all worse, and at an interesting time as Jeremy Hellickson threw well for Triple-A Durham in what could be his last rehab start before coming off the disabled list.
Bedard was coming off an impressive outing, working a season-high seven-plus innings at Baltimore on Saturday, though throwing only 86 pitches. He and Maddon said there were no lingering effects and that he felt and looked good leading up to the game.
"There was no anything that would indicate as tough a night as it was," Maddon said.
But he gave up four runs before recording his first out. Austin Jackson led off with a single, and Ian Kinsler laced a 3-and-1 pitch for a two-run homer. Miguel Cabrera walked, and Victor Martinez crushed a 1-and-1 pitch for a two-run homer. After a flyout, Torii Hunter drilled an 0-and-1 pitch over the centerfield fence.
"Just didn't have it," Bedard said. "I was not throwing strikes, I was not getting ahead and they took advantage of the counts, and they scored a lot of runs.''
The couple of weeks of improved play had cut down on the comparisons between these Rays and their predecessor, the Devil Rays. Bedard brought that back up, the 18th time a Tampa Bay pitcher allowed three or more homers in an inning, but only the third in the first inning, joining Ryan Rupe (at Anaheim, at July 26, 2001) and Paul Abbott (at Texas, May 3, 2004).