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Wade Davis, bullpen hammered as Tampa Bay Rays lose 11-5 to Texas Rangers

ST. PETERSBURG — There was a brief period Monday night when the Rays made a game of it, roughly from when Justin Ruggiano hit a three-run homer in the sixth to cut their deficit to four for a span of four batters until B.J. Upton struck out with the bases loaded.

Otherwise, there wasn't much good for them to take out of the 11-5 loss to the Rangers before a Memorial Day gathering of 14,203 at Tropicana Field.

Ruggiano got his first big-league hit since 2008. Matt Joyce showed the number-crunchers he could get not only one but two hits off a left-handed pitcher. The air conditioning felt good after a weekend at the beach.

And … and … and that was about it, as they lost for the seventh time in their past 10 games and 10th in 15, falling to 28-25.

"We didn't play good," manager Joe Maddon said. "It was one of our less impressive games overall."

Defense? Shortstop Sean Rodriguez made three errors, tying the team record while single-handedly ending their major-league record streak of multi-error-free games at 52, and the rest of his mates weren't sharp, either.

Offense? Apart from the sixth-inning flurry, when they scored four runs on homers by Ben Zobrist and Ruggiano during a five-hit outburst, there wasn't much: two singles by Joyce, raising his MLB-leading average to .368, and a couple others.

Pitching? That was the worst part of all, as seven combined to allow a season-high 20 hits (most at the Trop in four years) and the 11 runs.

Most concerning had to be Wade Davis, who was bad from the start and didn't get any better, allowing a career-high 12 hits while lasting only 22/3 innings (his shortest non-weather-affected start) and throwing a whopping 77 pitches.

But Davis — now 4-5, 4.52 — claimed it wasn't that bad, that he felt great and for the most part threw good pitches that the Rangers hit to the right spots.

"Overall, probably the best I've felt all year long," he said. "That was just a game where if it was a little bit on the plate they were finding holes. Everything they hit was going somewhere in a hole, landing in centerfield somewhere."

And Maddon said he thought Davis looked better than he had in previous starts.

"I really thought Wade had good stuff," Maddon said. "Velocity was good, break was good, but location probably was not."

Something was off, as Davis gave up hits to four of the first five batters to start the game, then five runs in the third, including back-to-back homers by the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Mike Napoli and Endy Chavez.

Davis hadn't looked good even when winning three of his first six starts and posting a 2.77 ERA, and he has been considerably worse in the five starts since, going 1-3 with a 7.17 ERA, allowing 38 hits (including nine homers) and 15 walks in 261/3 innings.

The Rays insist there's nothing wrong physically with Davis, who signed a long-term deal just before opening day that could be worth up to $35.1 million over seven years. But things certainly don't appear right.

"He's not been consistent with his game to this point," Maddon said. "But I really am kind of encouraged. I saw the better velocity, I saw good delivery; they just hit him tonight."

Early and often.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Wade Davis, bullpen hammered as Tampa Bay Rays lose 11-5 to Texas Rangers 05/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 7:01am]
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