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Rays' Jackson continues turnaround with another strong start

SEATTLE — RHP Edwin Jackson is more composed, throws strikes more consistently and does a better job of limiting damage in potentially big innings.

But the most impressive difference from this time last season to now?

How about his 9-7 record and 4.07 ERA compared to 2-11, 6.35?

"I can look back on last year and this year and it's a complete difference," Jackson said. "But at the same time last year helped me get to where I am now.

"Once you feel like you've been as low as you can get, there's nothing else to lose, so shoot for the moon."

Sunday, he worked seven solid innings, scattering seven hits and allowing one run. He won for the fourth straight time, and fifth in his past nine starts, allowing three or fewer earned runs eight times.

"He gave up runners along the way but kept making pitches to get himself out of jams," manager Joe Maddon said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: The Rays are cautiously optimistic that 3B Evan Longoria, who missed the past three games after being hit on the wrist by a pitch Thursday, and SS Jason Bartlett, who hasn't played the field since being hit Aug. 3, will return to the lineup Tuesday. Longoria said he felt much better but will test the wrist before the game and might need one more day.

PRICE CHECK: Maddon said there is no timetable or specific plan for the next step after promoting top prospect LHP David Price to Triple-A Durham.

"We just wanted to see him get involved there a little bit," Maddon said. "We have several different scenarios that we've kind of created mentally and see how it all plays out."

Maddon said Price, 11-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 starts at Class A and Double A, could be called up before Sept. 1. He will continue starting at Durham, pitching next on Wednesday, but Maddon said it was "possible" he would be moved to the bullpen with the Rays.

ABOUT SATURDAY NIGHT: The Rays scored the winner in Saturday's 8-7, 11-inning game, which ended at 2:37 a.m. Tampa Bay time, when Ben Zobrist scored on Dioner Navarro's sac fly and won when Troy Percival got the final out for his 350th career save.

But they were in position to win because of what happened in the bottom of the 10th when the Mariners had men on first and third with one out against new reliever Chad Bradford.

Red-hot Raul Ibanez was intentionally walked to load the bases. CF B.J. Upton was moved in to second base as a fifth infielder to prevent a ground ball from getting through. Bradford battled Adrian Beltre through nine pitches (including five straight two-strike fouls) before getting a sharp grounder. And the Rays turned a huge double play, from 3B Willy Aybar to C Navarro to 1B Carlos Pena.

MISCELLANY: TV analyst Joe Magrane left after Sunday's game to provide commentary for NBC's Olympics coverage (though from New York) and will return Aug. 24. … Upton stole his 36th base, staying tied with Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki for second in the AL behind Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury (38). … Cliff Floyd had his first three-hit game since June 14, 2007.'

Rays' Jackson continues turnaround with another strong start 08/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 4:24pm]
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