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Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett notches place in team history with 19-game hitting streak

ST. PETERSBURG — The bloop single to rightfield by SS Jason Bartlett in the fifth inning Thursday might not have been well struck.

But it made some Rays history and was indicative of how hot Bartlett is at the plate.

Bartlett extended his career-high hitting streak to 19 games and set a club record, passing Quinton McCracken (18 games, 1998). Bartlett, who has the longest active streak in the majors, received a large ovation and the ball as a memento. But he said, "I don't plan on stopping."

"I'm just trying to go out there and battle, and I'm finding holes," he said. "I'm living right right now, as they say."

Bartlett said he has tried not to think of the hitting streak but has received text messages from friends telling him to, "Keep it going." He was 2-for-5 Thursday with an RBI single, raising his average to .371.

"All year he's been playing at a high level, both offensively and defensively," manager Joe Maddon said. "So it's not surprising. He's hitting line drives and ground balls, and you have a tendency to find openings."

Held out: 3B Evan Longoria was surprised he wasn't in the lineup, saying his sore left hamstring felt better, but he and Maddon expect him to start tonight against the Marlins.

Maddon said he decided to rest Longoria as a precaution because of a twinge in the previously injured hamstring that forced him to leave Wednesday's game after the seventh.

Maddon thought it was the right move and didn't need to consult Longoria, who was available as a pinch-hitter Thursday.

"I feel good; I feel like I could play," Longoria said " … I guess (Maddon is) going to pick his spots when he's going to give me a day off here and there."

Longoria had missed six starts this month due to stiffness in the same hamstring and has admitted he hasn't been 100 percent. He's hitting .264 in 15 games since returning.

Getting close: RHP Chad Bradford, on a rehab assignment in Durham after offseason elbow surgery, could be ready to return as early as today. Maddon said he might not need to pitch as scheduled Saturday for the Bulls.

Mound matchup: RHP James Shields — coming off an impressive start in which he outpitched Mets LHP Johan Santana — acknowledges he'll get another tough counterpart today in Marlins RHP Josh Johnson (7-1).

"He's one of the premier pitchers in the game," Shields said. "He's doing a great job this year, coming back from his injuries, and pitching the way he's pitching right now, it's fun to watch if you're a fan."

No grudge: Marlins OF Chris Coghlan (an East Lake High product) visits the Trop tonight for the first time since the May 24 collision that led to 2B Akinori Iwamura's left knee injury. But Maddon doesn't expect any hard feelings to crop up.

"Not at all," Maddon said. "The kid plays hard. I like the way he played. I just thought he slid a little bit late, but there was no malicious intent. He slid hard, and he got him. That happens."

Izzy back: RHP Jason Isringhausen returned to the clubhouse, saying his Tommy John surgery Tuesday went well and he hasn't ruled out potentially pitching again next year.

It was the veteran reliever's second elbow surgery in the past year — and second Tommy John (1998) — done in St. Louis by his longtime doctor, George Paletta.

"It's my 10th surgery — I'm used to surgeries; I'm used to coming back from them," said Isringhausen, 36. "So I'll just go about the rehab, and as rehab progresses, I'll realize whether or not I'll be able to do it again. If I can come back normal again, (Paletta) said I'll be able to throw it harder than I am right now."

Miscellany: RF Gabe Kapler is batting .526 (10-for-19) in interleague play, which led the majors in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage entering Thursday. … Two Rays prospects were picked for the All-Star Futures Game in St. Louis (July 12), with Montgomery OF Desmond Jennings (U.S.) and Bowling Green OF Kyeong Kang (World). Durham manager Charlie Montoyo will be a coach for the World team. … Phillies LHP Antonio Bastardo left the game in the fourth with a left shoulder strain.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett notches place in team history with 19-game hitting streak 06/25/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 26, 2009 8:36am]
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