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Bullpen blows it again

Sound familiar? The Rays take a 6-5 lead over the Mariners into the eighth, only to lose 7-6.

Give the Devil Rays bullpen your support. Give it your sympathy. Just don't give it another lead.

When the Mariners came from behind in the eighth inning to beat Tampa Bay 7-6 late Friday night, it was no surprise. In fact, based on statistics, it was the probable result.

The Rays have blown nine of 14 save opportunities, a remarkably frightening effort.

And there is no one culprit. Roberto Hernandez, Albie Lopez, Jim Mecir and Rick White have all contributed blown saves. Billy Taylor was in a Rays uniform for the first time when he blew a 6-5 lead in the eighth Friday night.

"It was set up exactly the way I wanted it," manager Larry Rothschild said.

With Taylor on board, Rothschild was able to bring Lopez in for the sixth, he used Mark Guthrie to retire a left-hander in the seventh and then brought Taylor in to bridge the gap before closer Hernandez.

The plan was right; the execution was not.

Taylor walked Jay Buhner to lead off the eighth, which brought Rickey Henderson out as a pinch-runner to a standing ovation in his Mariners debut. With Henderson breaking on a 2-and-0 pitch, Stan Javier lined a double to center. Henderson scored standing up, narrowly missing a swipe tag by John Flaherty.

With the score tied, Hernandez came in and walked pinch-hitter Tom Lampkin before Mike Cameron laid down a sacrifice bunt and Mark McLemore drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.

The loss wasted the third two-homer game of the season for Rays leftfielder Greg Vaughn.