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Tampa Bay Rays' offense remains in a miserable slump

Evan Longoria, left, chats with Wade Davis, maybe the Rays’ only bright spot Sunday with 7⅓ innings of two-run ball.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Evan Longoria, left, chats with Wade Davis, maybe the Rays’ only bright spot Sunday with 7⅓ innings of two-run ball.

ST. PETERSBURG — Having 3B Evan Longoria and CF B.J. Upton clash in the dugout wasn't the only thing the Rays had to be frustrated about Sunday.

The 2-1 defeat was the eighth in their past 11 games, 11th in 16, and 19th in 31, dropping them into third place in the American League East, marking their fifth consecutive series loss and leaving them with a stunningly mediocre 20-19 record at home.

And even worse was how little they could do about it, managing just seven hits in three games against an Arizona pitching staff that is the worst in the majors. That's a .086 average (7-for-81) for the series, and .170 for the six-game homestand, including just .063 (7-for-50) with runners in scoring position.

"We're not hitting, period," Longoria said. "I'm not going to sit here making up excuses for why we're not hitting; who knows why? I think everyone's working as hard as they can, doing the same things that made us good in the beginning of the year. You go through these times. We've just got to keep our heads down and keep grinding."

"We know what level of baseball we should be playing right now and we're definitely not at it," INF Sean Rodriguez said. "Our offense obviously isn't where we want it to be. For a lot of us, it's just anxiousness, just wondering when are we going to start clicking like we can."

Manager Joe Maddon pointed to several balls they hit hard or into bad luck and said he expected things to improve soon.

ON THE OTHER HAND: About the only thing the Rays weren't frustrated about was the bounce-back performance by rookie RHP Wade Davis.

With his spot in the rotation perhaps in question, Davis responded with a season-high 71/3 innings, allowing only two runs on four hits and throwing 73 of his 104 pitches for strikes despite losing his fifth straight to drop to 5-9.

"That's what we expect more out of him," Maddon said. "That kind of a look, much better command of his fastball, much better command of all of his pitches, maintaining his velocity throughout. I thought he got better as the game was in progress. I was really pleased with that a lot."

Davis said the biggest difference were some small changes to his delivery he made with pitching coach Jim Hickey: "I was much more under control in going to the plate and not falling off."

C.C. REPORT: LF Carl Crawford's sore left shoulder continues to improve slowly, and Maddon said it was now possible, perhaps even a "60-40" chance, Crawford could be available to DH on Tuesday in Boston.

Less certain is when he will be able to return to the outfield as he has yet to try to throw. Crawford has been stretching the shoulder and took some "dry" swings — no ball — on Sunday, and was used as a pinch-runner, briefly, before being doubled off in the eighth.

"When y'all see my name in that lineup, that means I'll be ready to go," Crawford said. "As of right now, I'm still the same."

KAP'S OFF: Gabe Kapler, interestingly playing centerfield, went 0-for-3 in his third rehab game (strained right hip flexor) for Class A Charlotte with plans for a Tuesday return.

Assuming the Rays keep Matt Joyce, it will be interesting to see how they make room, with DH Hank Blalock (hitting .254 with four extra-base hits) a possibility to go.

HIT AND MISS: The Rays played a big role in two marks set by D'backs starters as Dontrelle Willis (vs. the Yankees), Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Rodrigo Lopez became the first quartet since 1900 to allow five or fewer hits over four starts, and the first since 1951 to walk as many as 29.

MISCELLANY: The 7-11 interleague mark was the Rays' first losing record since 2007. … SS Jason Bartlett was out of the lineup for a scheduled day off on Sunday as Maddon continues to monitor him after his DL stint. … All nine Rays starters on the field wore the new striped stirrup socks.

Tampa Bay Rays' offense remains in a miserable slump 06/27/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 28, 2010 8:55am]

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