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Pat Burrell says Tampa Bay Rays 'making it tough on ourselves'

SEATTLE — After the punchless Tampa Bay Rays dropped their fourth straight series and lost for the seventh time in nine games, manager Joe Maddon continued to insist it's just a matter of time until they break out

But Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell, a newcomer to the squad, suggested it might take something else.

"We're making it tough on ourselves," Pat Burrell said. "Maybe one of these games we'll turn it around and get on a roll, but we have to fight a little bit to get there."

Joe Maddon said he has been pleased with the Tampa Bay Rays' work ethic and the effort, and he maintains the lack of offense —their second shutout in 12 games and the ninth time in 16 they've scored three or less — is only short term, though without any specifics on why.

"We're just not there yet," he said. "We're just not there. I think we're healthy. The guys are together. We believe.

"It's just going to have to morph into that winning streak, and it's going to. We're just apparently not ready yet. The guys are doing everything possible. The work's been great. It's just a matter of time."

Kaz set: LHP Scott Kazmir returns to the mound tonight in Oakland planning to forget everything about his last start, when he began Saturday's game against Chicago with 10 straight balls, walked six and didn't get out of the fifth.

Kazmir said a lot of his problems were mechanical, but Maddon suggested there was another issue in play.

"The umpire he drew on that particular night (Mike Everitt), the strike zone was relatively small, and I think it got into his head a little bit early," Maddon said. "If he just gets off good (tonight) and is doing some strike-throwing early in the game, he'll be fine."

Mark of Z: Ben Zobrist started his third straight game in rightfield and sixth overall, but Maddon — even while raving about how "he's playing a good brand of baseball right now"— isn't anointing the switch-hitting shortstop-turned-super utilityman the starter.

"We're not ready to go there," Maddon said. "Gabe (Gross) is going to get back out there, of course Gabe Kapler is going to be out there, Ben's going to give (SS Jason) Bartlett a day off, he's going to give (2B Akinori Iwamura) a day off. That's what he's here for.

"Right now, he's doing a nice job out there. One of our misgivings recently is that we haven't been scoring a lot of runs and we have not been hitting well, and he is. So it wouldn't be wise to take him out right now."

Hit man: The milestone in Wednesday's 9-3 win was the 100th RBI then the 101st of 3B Evan Longoria's young career. But the true accomplishment, from the way Maddon saw it, was in the method.

"A real RBI mentality to me is a guy who is going to do what he's done the last couple of times, and that's drive the ball to right-center," he said. "If they're not going to give you the pitch to power the ball to leftfield with, and you don't make the adjustment, it's very difficult to have that kind of mentality to drive in that one-run-at-a-time thing.

"What he's been doing more recently has been fabulous. I've taken as much or more pleasure out of these line drives to right-center as any bomb he's hit since I've known him."

Longoria has the talent and the power to hit the ball out to all fields, Maddon said. But it's the proper approach that can make the difference, and spending as much time as Lon­goria does with Burrell — whose RBI mentality draws raves from Maddon — can only help the 23-year-old get better at it. "Yeah, he has it," Maddon said. "It's within him."

Minor matters: RHP Jason Isringhausen worked one inning, allowing only a walk, Thursday in the first of scheduled back-to-back outings for Double-A Montgomery. He moves to Triple-A Durham next week. … RHP Wade Davis picked up his first win for the Bulls on Wednesday and has allowed just a .178 average.

Miscellany: All-Star voting has started online at mlb.com, in-stadium voting at the Trop runs from May 15 to June 28. … Longoria is one of 10 players on a new, nonbinding online ballot for participation in the Home Run Derby.

Pat Burrell says Tampa Bay Rays 'making it tough on ourselves' 04/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:33am]

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