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A record loss, in no time

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[Times photos: Michael Rondou]
The Blue Jays' Brad Fullmer and Rays third baseman Aubrey Huff discuss the ground rules after Fullmer's double struck a catwalk.
By BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 5, 2001


Bryan Rekar leaves after 2 2/3 innings as Rays lose their 59th before the break, an AL mark.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Bryan Rekar, it has been said, hasn't pitched as badly as his record would indicate.

Wednesday, he did. He didn't make it through the third inning against Toronto, the American League East's fourth-best (or second-worst) team. The Blue Jays raked Rekar for five runs on seven hits, lowered his record to 1-10, raised his ERA to 5.53 and routed the Rays 8-1.

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Starting pitcher Bryan Rekar had one of his touger outings of the year, not making it through the 3rd inning.

He tied the personal record he set last season for losses, and the crowd of 13,119 didn't get much of a chance to see him work. The 2 2/3 innings was Rekar's shortest performance as a starter since May 17, 2000.

"He didn't have his best stuff today," Rays manager Hal McCrae understated, "but we didn't do anything from an offensive end, either."

Matching his work during the game, Rekar didn't stick around long enough to dissect it. Unbeknownst to McRae, Rekar left the clubhouse before the media were allowed in. "It's not something he should make a habit of doing," McRae said.

Tampa Bay has the league's only double-digit losers -- Albie Lopez is 3-11 -- which helps explain why the Rays, at 28-59, own outright the AL record for losses before the All-Star Game. The 1962 Mets hold the all-time record of 66.

And the Rays have four more games before the break, which helps explain McRae's observation that "as many games as we've lost, a pause to refresh would be good. ... We can forget about the first half and concentrate on the second half, in a sense wiping the slate clean completely."

Reliever Paul Quantrill (who, like the rest of the Blue Jays bullpen, took the day off) is Toronto's lone All-Star. Starter Steve Parris pitched like one, tossing a six-hitter for his first win since May 21.

"We were flat today, never really got anything going," McRae said. "Just one of those days where once they scored, we never challenged."

The complete game, Parris' first of the season in 16 starts, was the third against the Rays this season -- and the first by a winner. The Orioles' Pat Hentgen (April 13) and Jose Mercedes (May 8) went all the way in losses.

"All day long he got the first batter out," Toronto manager Buck Martinez said. "Five times he got the first two guys out. He was ahead all day long, and if you're going to pitch ahead, you're going to be successful."

Rekar started his downfall by hitting Carlos Delgado leading off the second inning. Brad Fullmer followed with a 125-foot-high fly to right that struck cables hanging from the B-ring catwalk, the one closest to the top of the dome. It was the 12th fair ball this season and the 39th in Rays history to hit a catwalk, or something hanging from one.

It was a live ball, meaning Fullmer and Delgado could keep running, but Delgado stopped at third and Fullmer at second. An on-the-field debate between Martinez and the umpires ensued, during which Delgado and Fullmer trotted home. But because time had been called, they were sent back to their respective bases.

No matter: Alex Gonzalez's grounder and Luis Lopez's single drove in a run apiece.

Three doubles highlighted the third-inning burst that chased Rekar and gave Parris a comfort zone.

"I felt pretty good, really good after I got five runs in the first three innings," Parris said. "It makes it a lot easier to pitch when the offense does that."

McRae found a silver lining in Jeff Wallace's work in relief of Rekar: "He pitched well, put up some zeros, stopped the momentum and gave us a chance to mount a comeback, but we never did." The Rays had a chance to pick up a few more runs in the eighth when Steve Cox and Greg Vaughn singled with two outs, but Fred McGriff flied out.

After Parris got the first two outs in the ninth, Martinez strode to the mound.

"He had a funny movement in his shoulder," Martinez said. "It didn't look real good. He hasn't thrown that many pitches all that frequently or pitched that late into a game, so I was a little concerned. Mark Conner, the pitching coach, saw it. I just went out to make sure he way okay. He assured us he was."

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