No fairy-tale ending this time

Edwin Jackson leaves the Rays in a hole from which they can't escape.

Published May 19, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG -- Coming off two strong outings, Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson had every reason to believe his upward trend would continue Friday night against the Marlins.

Except that's not his pattern.

Jackson lasted less than three innings, but in terms of damage, that was plenty. Unable to overcome an early 7-0 deficit, the Rays lost 8-4 at Tropicana Field.

The loss ended the team's season-high, four-game winning streak.

"It's the way it's been all year," said Jackson, who struggled with control in allowing seven runs -- six earned -- on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, including a grand slam. And he walked three batters and had one wild pitch.

"It seems like I take three steps forward and five steps back and always have to fight harder to stay ahead in the steps. ... It seems like every third start is a game like this. I have two games where I go deep and feel like I'm putting something together, and it's always a slap in the face. I just have to work hard."

Jackson fell to 0-6 in eight starts, but the latest loss was especially disheartening because he had recently made progress in his ongoing battle with consistency.

In his previous two starts, Jackson pitched through the sixth inning in games against the Athletics and Blue Jays, prompting manager Joe Maddon to say Jackson had turned a corner.

Against the Marlins, Jackson was a mystery again.

After retiring the side in order in the first, Jackson gave up three consecutive singles, including a bunt, to start the second. That set the stage for Aaron Boone's second career grand slam, off a hanging slider he drilled into the leftfield seats.

In the third, Jackson walked the bases loaded, and with two outs, Reggie Abercrombie singled sharply to right, scoring two runs for a 6-0 lead.

The seventh run scored on a passed ball after Jackson left the game, a final insult.

"He'd been doing some really good work, and it is a little bit of a step back because he had been looking so good," Maddon said. "He was using both his fastball and his slider, he was getting us deeper into games. ... This was a little bit of a bump."

On Legends of Wrestling night at the Trop, featuring a dozen former World Wrestling Entertainment stars in action before, during and after the game, it felt more like a body slam to Jackson.

"You work hard for four days and you feel like you have something together then, boom, a brick wall comes crashing down on you," Jackson said. "But I haven't lost any confidence. I just have to keep working."

Tim Corcoran and Jae Kuk Ryu held the Marlins to one run in a combined 6 1/3 relief innings, 5 1/3 by Corcoran, while the Rays (18-23) tried to rally. Ty Wigginton and Carlos Pena hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth, and Wigginton added another in the eighth to make it 8-4.

The tying run came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth, but Navarro grounded to the pitcher, who threw home to start a double play. Catcher Matt Treanor's throw to first hit Navarro, who was called out for running inside the baseline.

Brendan Harris struck out to end the inning.

Joanne Korth can be reached at korth@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8810.