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Harper rebounds with solid outing
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published June 26, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Devil Rays reliever Travis Harper said he is done talking about his disastrous outing against the Yankees.
"It's over," he said, "just like every other outing I ever had."
Harper couldn't have done any more to bury the memory than he did Saturday against the Marlins, pitching a scoreless ninth inning with one hit, no fuss, no muss.
And certainly not as dramatic as the nine runs on eight hits, including four home runs, he allowed Tuesday in New York.
"I almost refuse to talk about that now," Harper said.
Of his outing against the Marlins, he said, "I expect to have good innings and I certainly don't dwell on bad outings. It's not productive. I expect to pitch well and go off that."
Still, he added, "It's just one inning."
The Rays will take it.
Tampa Bay's bullpen has been a little beat up lately. The eighth inning has been especially tough, with the Rays being outscored 78-24.
It has gotten to the point manager Lou Piniella joked that, "I think I'm going to start buying steak dinners for scoreless eighths."
For better or worse, things are being shaken up.
Dewon Brazelton was added to the bullpen with former starter Doug Waechter. Piniellas said lefty Trever Miller (hamstring) likely will come off the disabled list Tuesday, and Piniella said he is thinking of accelerating the development of hard-throwing Chad Orvella.
"It's been a tough stretch," Harper said. "We have a good core of guys. I really think we'll come out of this, and I think it will be sooner rather than later. It has to be. I believe in all the guys down there, including myself. I sure do look forward to having some good runs here in the second half."
WELCOME BACK: Brazelton was booed when he relieved Rays starter Casey Fossum with one out in the seventh inning.
"You know, whatever," he said after his first outing since Friday's callup from Double-A Montgomery. "I really can't be bothered or concerned with anybody who is negative at this point. I'm trying to move forward with my career, and anybody that wants to be negative, fine. It doesn't make any difference. I'm just trying to move forward."
Brazelton got out of the seventh by getting Juan Encarnacion and Lenny Harris to fly out to right. But the right-hander got in trouble to start the eighth when he allowed a single to Alex Gonzalez and a bunt single to Juan Pierre.
Two singles, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly later, the Marlins had two runs and led 6-2.
"I did fine," Brazelton said."I try to go out there and get guys out the best way I can. They're a good team with good players. It's hard to get people out. I put my mind to trying to get people out, and the rest, whatever."
MCCLUNG'S CHANCE: Seth McClung always said he preferred a starter's role to one in the bullpen. The right-hander gets his chance today in the season-finale against the Marlins.
Piniella said reports on McClung out of Triple-A Durham have been encouraging.
"He's adapted better to starting than he did to the bullpen," Piniella said. "So we'll see."
CITRUS SERIES: The Rays are 0-5 against the Marlins and have dropped six straight going back to last season. With losses in the first two games of the three games series, Tampa Bay lost its first series to Florida at the Trop since June 1999.
MISCELLANY: Aubrey Huff (bruised right knee) pinch hit, and Piniella said he should be able to play the next few games as designated hitter. ... Top draft pick Wade Townsend made his pro debut Friday for Class-A Hudson Valley, pitched an inning in relief and struck out two of the three batters he faced. ... Centerfielder Rocco Baldelli returned from Birmingham, Ala., where on Thursday he had Tommy John surgery to replace a torn tendon in his right elbow. ... Piniella said Waechter, who started Friday, should be available to pitch Tuesday.