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Matt Garza happy to help out a worn-down Tampa Bay Rays bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG — So how exactly did RHP Matt Garza end up on the mound for the final out Wednesday?

Well, it started because he didn't get enough outs in his own start on Monday, lasting just three innings. And with the bullpen worn out by Wednesday, with All-Star closer Rafael Soriano and setup man Joaquin Benoit needing the night off, the Rays felt Garza, who threw 84 pitches in his abbreviated start on Monday, was the best choice for the job.

"Is there some irony in that whole situation?'' manager Joe Maddon said. "I'll go with irony. But it's the team concept also.''

Garza had a hint late Tuesday when pitching coach Jim Hickey wouldn't commit to a set time for Wednesday's usual between-starts throwing session. And he knew the full plan when he showed up Wednesday and was told to hold off throwing because he might be needed.

It was the third relief appearance of his pro career, and his first save (though he was a closer for a while in college), and he couldn't have been more excited by the opportunity.

"(Hickey) came in and said if I need you, can you go, and I said, yeah, it's my side (session) day anyway, so let's dance,'' Garza said. "My name got called, and I was like, let's go. It was a lot of fun, a lot of adrenalin, a lot of energy. And I just let it go.''

Garza, who threw 20 pitches, said he'll make his scheduled start Saturday.

CONFIDENCE BOOST: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg's assertion that "money won't be an object" in a potential stretch-drive addition was well-received in the clubhouse.

"At the beginning of the year, I remember (Sternberg) saying that next year we're going to cut our payroll," pitcher James Shields said. "It had this little more of a negative attitude, and as a player, it's not good to hear that stuff.

"But to come out and say that now (about this year), it gives us a positive attitude, and we're on a nice little roll right now, I think it's a perfect time to come out and say something like that. Whether or not he does it or not, it's just the fact that the mind-set is there."

WADING IN: Rookie RHP Wade Davis, who enters tonight's start on a career-long five-game losing streak, says it has been a struggle to find consistency.

Davis has allowed three earned runs or fewer in four of his past five starts but has lasted 41/3 innings in two of his past three.

"I'll have an okay start, then I'll come back and have a really good one," Davis said. "I'll have an okay one, then have a really good one. I think a lot of that has to do with what I did after that start, what made me get to that point. And I think that kind of (stinks) the way things have been happening. But I've definitely picked up a lot, and I'm starting to understand why things are happening."

MINOR MATTERS: Montgomery LHP Alex Torres was added to the World roster for Sunday's All-Star Futures Game, joining Durham RHP Jeremy Hellickson and OF Desmond Jennings, who are on the U.S. team. … Dan Johnson hit his 23rd homer for the Bulls.

SUSPENSION TALK: Dominican Summer League C Jhancarlos Infante was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, a metabolite of Boldenone.

MISCELLANY: 2B Sean Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to nine games. … INF/OF Ben Zobrist has 15 walks in his past 10 games. … The Rays lead the season series with Boston 8-4. … 1B Carlos Peña was back in the cleanup spot Wednesday. … The Rays appear to have figured out Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who is 1-4, 8.47 in his past seven starts against them.

Matt Garza happy to help out a worn-down Tampa Bay Rays bullpen 07/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 8, 2010 1:46am]
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