ST. PETERSBURG — For a guy who gave up four runs on seven hits and lasted only one batter into the sixth inning Thursday against the Marlins, RHP Jake Odorizzi felt pretty good about himself.
"Overall, I thought I was honestly really good," he said. "Threw a lot of strikes, got ahead of just about everybody and made good pitches."
And he felt that way even after the fourth inning, when, with two outs and nobody on, he allowed five consecutive singles — granted, two on ground balls through the infield, another on a chopper — that led to three Miami runs.
"The fourth inning, same thing, just they didn't find the gloves, I thought," Odorizzi said. "It was just in the perfect spot. Things like that just happen to us right now."
BULLPEN SHUFFLE? Manager Joe Maddon made what seemed like an unusual move, using closer Grant Balfour in the eighth inning with the Rays behind.
Maddon insisted it was not a change in role but purely strategic. He said with RHP Joel Peralta needed to bail out RHP Brad Boxberger in the seventh inning, he wanted Balfour, a right-hander, on that part of the Miami lineup in the eighth and would have given him the chance for a two-inning save, though it was possible RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo would have been used for the final outs.
MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson is set to begin a projected three-start rehabilitation assignment Saturday for the Class A Stone Crabs in Tampa, the final stage of his return from Jan. 29 arthroscopic right elbow surgery.
And Hellickson might have C Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. Hanigan is feeling good in his return from right hamstring tightness and is planning to rejoin the Rays on Wednesday when his 15-day DL stint ends. Maddon said they want him to first play in a couple of minor-league games, specifically to ssee how he handles coming in and out of his crouch at game speed.
Hellickson, set to throw three innings or 50 pitches, is lined up, if all goes well, to return for the June 27 doubleheader in Baltimore.
THE DO-RUN-RUN: Rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier admitted his mistake in not making a good read and acknowledged his frustration over his lack of aggressiveness in the ninth inning of Wednesday's loss. Kiermaier, on third with one out and the Rays down 5-4, declined to break for home on a high chopper to first and never got another chance to score.
"I'm definitely beating myself for that one," he said. "That's definitely a learning experience. I've done that many times in my career — read that high chopper and go in. I'm an aggressive baserunner. Right there I just froze, and I couldn't make up for it. It's very frustrating."
Kiermaier made up for it some with three hits (two for extra bases) and his first steal, of third.
ERIK THE GOOD: LHP Erik Bedard's last two outings haven't looked much like his previous five good ones, but Maddon said the veteran isn't pitching worse.
"He's not really throwing a whole lot differently," Maddon said. "I see very little difference in his stuff and how he's going about his business."
MISCELLANY: LHP David Price's fine from Major League Baseball for the May 30 events in Boston was $750, which he plans to donate to his Project 14 Foundation. … 3B Evan Longoria had his first double since May 10, ending a career-high 23-game drought. … 2B Ben Zobrist homered in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 17-18, 2012. … The Rays allowed three or more runs in three innings, making it a major-league-high 38 total. … The fracture in OF Wil Myers' right wrist is in the scaphoid bone, near the base of the thumb.