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Glow from Yankees series dims as pitching falters
MARLINS 6, RAYS 2: Tampa Bay never musters a fight after a disheartening first inning that left them behind 4-0.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 26, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - The Devil Rays have been consumed with improving a bullpen that has repeatedly failed them in the late innings.
Saturday, it didn't get that far.
Casey Fossum got off to a rough start - allowing five singles and making a costly throwing error in a 34-pitch first inning - and the Rays never recovered in a 6-2 loss to the Marlins.
Any momentum the Rays took from winning three of four in New York is gone, as well as any edge they had at Tropicana Field, their home losing streak reaching five. They are winless in five games against the Marlins and head into today's interleague finale with a major-league worst 3-14 record after going a major-league best 15-3 last season.
Manager Lou Piniella had no explanation for their interleague struggles.
"I don't know," he said. "It's probably the teams we're playing. ... One thing we have done this year is given up a lot of runs in interleague play. ... I don't have an answer for you. I wish I did."
Saturday, their problems were twofold. Fossum and Dewon Brazelton, who was booed in his first relief appearance, gave up too many runs, and they couldn't score enough against Florida's Scott Olsen, a 21-year-old left-hander making his major-league debut.
Fossum had trouble with his pitches from the onset, allowing singles to five of the first seven hitters on breaking balls that didn't come down. But his worst throw may have been the one to the plate after fielding Mike Lowell's high chopper. The error - the Rays' AL-leading 61st - allowed one run to score and set up two others as the Marlins took a 4-0 lead.
"The big play in that first inning was that little chopper," Piniella said. "If we just get an out at first base instead of coming home with the ball I think we limit the damage to two runs. But they ended up with a four-spot."
Fossum said he was too worried about preventing one run to think of the bigger picture.
"I heard the word "Home,' and the first thing I looked at was home and I threw it," Fossum said. "I try not to let any runs score. I haven't pitched with a lead much in two years. So any little run, I try to save. It turned out to be the wrong choice."
Fossum settled down after that, working into the seventh without giving up another run. The Rays had chances against Olsen, but didn't take advantage, getting only one run after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth and seeing Julio Lugo picked off first. Eduardo Perez homered in the sixth.
"(Fossum) held them there and gave us a chance," Perez said. "We just couldn't get it started against Olsen."