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Rays bullpen's stellar work takes two-day break

ST. LOUIS — Rays relievers have pitched so well for so long. But the past two days didn't turn out very well.

When Dan Wheeler gave up a walkoff homer to Ryan Ludwick in the 10th inning Saturday, it was the first loss by the bullpen in more than a month.

When Gary Glover allowed an RBI double to Skip Schumaker in the ninth Sunday, it was the second in less than 24 hours.

Worse, the Rays led 3-0 in the sixth and 4-2 in the eighth.

"Obviously, we didn't do our part the way we've been doing it," Glover said.

The biggest difference was the free passes. It was a group effort, as the five relievers faced 20 batters and walked six, three of whom scored. J.P. Howell, Trever Miller and Glover each walked their first batter. Wheeler and Al Reyes (one intentionally, one not) chipped in as well.

"You can't walk guys," Wheeler said. "We're all guilty of it today. It's just what happens. You walk guys, you put guys on base, you lose games."

Manager Joe Maddon said he had no issues with his pitchers, or the umpiring for that matter.

"We were just missing," he said. "There's no solid explanation."

GOOD RIDDANCE: It's understandable if Wheeler doesn't ever again want to see Ludwick, who homered off him on consecutive pitches — his last one Saturday and his first one Sunday. "That's fair to say right now, I guess," Wheeler said. "He's seen two pitches and hit two home runs."

JACKSON'S ACTION: Starter Edwin Jackson, who walked four of his own, had a decent outing overall, allowing one run over 51/3 innings. "It wasn't necessarily the best, and it wasn't the worst," he said.

Jackson lowered his ERA to 3.29 but has three straight no-decisions (thanks to Troy Percival blowing two saves) and a seven-game winless streak.

HOME BOY: DH/OF Jonny Gomes always enjoys going to Oakland, which isn't far from his hometown of Petaluma, Calif., and allows him to see family and friends. But he's even more excited this trip because he's likely to start twice, with the A's pitching left-handers Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It's like Christmas Eve," he said.

Gomes, 27, admits it has been hard to adapt to his limited role, but he is trying to make the best of it by staying "mentally checked in," watching and learning what he can, tracking opponents' tendencies, looking to steal signs, etc.

"I would love to be a manager down the line," he said. "I come across like just a friggin' caveman but there's definitely a method to the madness if you ever have the time to sit down and talk."

ROUGH TOWN: The Rays have played worse in Oakland than anywhere else, with a 10-35 record. But there's hope, because they're 4-5 there the past two years under Maddon and have won two of the past three series.

FEELING BLUE: SS Jason Bartlett got the day off after being the latest victim of a 24-hour flulike bug that has been going through the clubhouse, working over several coaches and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield.

"Fever, throwing up, that kind of stuff," Bartlett said. "Nothing too fun."

Ben Zobrist, who was to play second with Akinori Iwamura getting the day off, started at short instead and had two doubles.

MISCELLANY: After a season-high 18 hits Saturday, the Rays had a season-high seven doubles Sunday. … LHP David Price came through Saturday's final extended spring start fine and will make his pro debut on Thursday at Vero Beach. … Miller also allowed his first inherited runner to score. … At the suggestion of bench coach Dave Martinez, the Rays wore their blue batting practice jerseys for the first time in a game.

Rays bullpen's stellar work takes two-day break 05/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2008 1:30pm]

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