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Kazmir is rocked as Tampa Bay Rays lose to the White Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — For games when their pitchers notch 10 strikeouts, the Rays, through a somewhat convoluted promotion, give out free pizzas.

Saturday night, their pitchers walked 10, and the giveaway was much simpler: free runs.

Of the 10 White Sox who walked, six scored in an 8-3 Chicago win that extended the Rays' frustrating start to 5-7.

"You're not going to pull out a win that way, that's for sure," said Rays starter Scott Kazmir, who was responsible for six of the walks in a rough four-inning outing. "You're giving these guys free passes left and right, they get you in the stretch and you're battling yourself every single time."

The beginning was pretty awful, as Kazmir, who had pitched so well and looked so smooth in winning his first two starts, threw 10 consecutive balls on his way to walking the bases loaded and allowing two first-inning runs.

"I just didn't feel like myself today at all," said Kazmir, who threw 42 balls in 94 pitches. "Right from the very beginning it just felt like nothing was consistent. I was not hitting my spots, not locating at all. … Just an outing I'd like to forget about and move on."

The middle was more critical, as Kazmir couldn't get an out in the fifth, giving up two homers (including Paul Konerko's two-run shot on an 0-and-2 pitch) sandwiching another walk and expanding the White Sox lead from 3-0 to 6-0, a comfy margin with Mark Buehrle on the mound.

"Kaz just couldn't find the plate early on and could not seem to right himself, either," manager Joe Maddon said. "… Those couple home runs really mattered a lot. Three runs would have been okay, but once they got those couple more homers, that made it much more difficult."

And the end couldn't, and didn't, come soon enough as the all-or-nothing Rays came up empty again, spoiling the night for a hopeful Tropicana Field crowd of 31,916 clutching replica AL championship trophies.

"I guess it was one of those days when nothing was working for us overall; we couldn't hit, we couldn't pitch," catcher Dioner Navarro said.

The 10 walks were four shy of the team record but their most in a home game in nearly five years. The lack of offense has been a much more common occurrence.

Twelve games into a 162-game season, first impressions can be iffy. But an offense that was supposed to be much improved hasn't been much of anything besides home runs. Half their 60 runs have come that way, and they're 5-3 in games when they homer, 0-4 when they don't.

And while Carlos Peña, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games; Evan Longoria, who ran his to 10; Jason Bartlett; and Akinori Iwamura have been hot, the rest, not so much.

B.J. Upton is hitting .182, Navarro .200, Pat Burrell .225, Carl Crawford (after snapping an 0-for-12) .260 and the rightfield Gabes a combined .267 (.167 for Gross, .100 for Kapler).

"We don't have everything going yet," Maddon said. "B.J.'s getting his feet underneath him right now, Pat's still doing the same thing. We just haven't hit to the level that we thought we might be able to hit to at this particular juncture, but we will."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

White Sox 8

Rays 3

Kazmir is rocked as Tampa Bay Rays lose to the White Sox 04/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 19, 2009 7:31am]

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