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Tampa Bay Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth returns with perfect ninth inning

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Kyle Farnsworth said he didn't know what to expect Saturday in his first outing in two weeks, having been sidelined by a sore elbow.

But after Farnsworth threw a perfect ninth in the Rays' 6-2 win over the Jays, including two strikeouts, he was encouraged with how he felt. And manager Joe Maddon was impressed with how sharp he was after the layoff.

"I felt better than I thought," Farnsworth said. "I was just trying to stay within myself, knock the rust off and try to throw strikes. And I felt good, for the most part."

Farnsworth said he felt the elbow a little on a couple of sliders, but he was happy with his command, throwing 11 of his 17 pitches for strikes. And he reached 97 mph on one of them.

"I thought he was real sharp," Maddon said. "Velocity was really good — you saw 97 when he wanted it."

Maddon said if Farnsworth feels fine today, he'd have no problem using him again.

a little off: Maddon said pulling RHP Jeff Niemann after just one inning — his shortest start of his career — was not injury-related, he just didn't like how he looked on the mound.

Niemann, who had his start pushed back two days due to upper-back soreness, labored in a 38-pitch first inning in which he allowed two runs (a two-run homer by Jose Bautista) on two hits and walked two.

"I didn't see the normal snap on the breaking ball, and I didn't see the normal velocity," Maddon said. "He was not looking like he normally does, so I thought, 'Why wait?' "

Niemann said he was physically fine, other than some expected residual soreness, and while he was a little surprised with the quick hook, he understood.

"Just a little bit off," Niemann said. "These are must-win games for us, and we all know that, so that's what happened."

Wading in: RHP Wade Davis considers himself his own "worst enemy," making him as upset as anybody over his last outing, when he allowed five runs and walked five in just 4⅔ innings in a loss in New York.

"I'm way better than that," Davis said. "Should have been the exact opposite."

Davis is also confident he'll be better today in what is likely his biggest start of the season, and he hopes it's not his last.

"It's everything," he said. "It's all or nothing."

Davis had a good between-starts bullpen session and knows what he did wrong in Yankee Stadium, specifically boasting a lack of fastball command, and "overthrowing" with runners on base.

"I think you just try to do too much in certain situations when you don't have to," Davis said. "You look at some of the best pitchers in baseball, the Cliff Lees, and (Roy) Halladay, and some of those guys, they have men on first and second and nobody out and they really don't seem to change their game. You just got to stay within yourself."

No worries: CF B.J. Upton said he is fine after twisting his ankle on a stolen base attempt in the eighth. His foot just got stuck in the dirt on a slide.

Tampa Bay Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth returns with perfect ninth inning 09/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 11:22pm]
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