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More trust in his slider helping Jackson turn a corner

When told he had just set a career high with nine strikeouts Saturday, Edwin Jackson said he didn't even realize it.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published May 13, 2007


TORONTO - When told he had just set a career high with nine strikeouts Saturday, Edwin Jackson said he didn't even realize it.

"I was just going out attacking hitters," Jackson said. "I was just going out there trying to get two strikes and making them put the ball in play or put them away."

Jackson, whose toughest tasks this season as the Rays' fifth starter have been his control and early big innings, took a step forward in a 5-4 loss to Toronto.

In six innings, he allowed four runs on six hits, but three of those runs came in the third inning off homers by Adam Lind and Frank Thomas.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said the difference between Jackson the past two outings from the one who had a 7.36 ERA is that Jackson is now able to use his slider in all counts as a complement to his mid 90s fastball.

"I honestly believe it's because of the style of pitching he's incorporating right now," Maddon said. "He's got one more pitch to go to. I think in the past, when things got hot, he wanted to go harder. Most pitching coaches and hitters say that the better thing to do is get softer when hitters get really amped up."

Jackson said the key was mixing his pitches.

"I was just trying to mix it up," he said. "Batters know they're going to get their fastballs. It's just a matter of placement and whether they hit it or not."

LINEUP CHANGES: Maddon shuffled his lineup, giving newly acquired Josh Wilson his first start, putting him at 3B and moving Ty Wigginton to 2B.

Maddon bumped struggling RF Delmon Young down one spot to seventh, the lowest he has hit in the order this season, moving 1B Carlos Pena to sixth behind leading hitter B.J. Upton.

"I just feel as though right now, B.J. needs to be protected in another way it appears to me until Delmon starts getting back to his regular form," Maddon said. "Nobody is pitching to B.J., so I just wanted to try Carlos as a form of protection."

Upton and Young were 0-for-4 on Saturday. Young is six for his past 49. Pena hit a homer in the fifth and walked twice.

MISCELLANY: Maddon said he didn't have any revelations on today's starter, RHP Jae Seo, who is 1-3 with an 8.82 ERA. "I can't give you anything mindboggling or new or inventive. It's just rehashing old stuff and that's it." ... After an 0-for-4 day, Rays DH Rocco Baldelli is one for his past 36 and hitless in his past 26 at-bats.