SEATTLE (AP) - If the Seattle Mariners had planned to showcase left-hander Erik Bedard Friday night, it wasn't much of a show.
Bedard, the subject of trade rumors as the July 31 trading deadline approaches, had his shortest, toughest outing this season. He threw 57 pitches in his 1 1-3 innings and was tagged for five runs on three hits, walking four and striking out two in an 8-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Bedard (4-7) was just off the disabled list (knee) and showed the effects of his 32-day layoff.
``It's been a while,' he said. ``I was trying to throw strikes but it didn't happen.'
The Rays sent a season-high 12 batters to the plate in the second. The eight runs are the most since June 25, 2008 when the Rays scored 10 in the fifth inning against Florida.
Bedard and Aaron Laffey combined to walk four in the inning and all four scored.
Bedard issued a bases-loaded walk and gave up a two-run single to Johnny Damon.
``He had good stuff, a live fastball, breaking ball was pretty good but he was working from behind,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``He really had to work hard, particularly that second inning. He was strong. Stuff was good, just erratic.'
Later in the inning, Laffey yielded Ben Zobrist's two-run shot on a 2-1 pitch.
``He really struggled today,' Wedge said of Laffey. ``He just really didn't have anything going. He wasn't quite as aggressive as he needs to be.'
After the game, Laffey cleaned out his locker. He's expected to be optioned to Triple-A Tacoma Saturday.
The Mariners have lost 22 of their past 27 games, with a franchise-record 17 straight losses during that span. They are 5-19 in July with two games remaining. Their worst July in the franchise's 34 seasons was last year at 6-22.
It's the ninth shutout for the Rays this season and the ninth time the Mariners have been shut out.
Presented with the early lead, Rays starter Jeff Niemann (5-4) had a comfortable outing. He allowed three hits and struck out a career-high 11 in 6 2-3 innings.
``That's (lead) what made it possible,' Niemann said. ``I could relax and throw strikes. It made a world of difference.'
Niemann set the club record for any month for any Rays pitcher with a 1.06 ERA and a 3-0 record. Only New York's C.C. Sabathia has had a better month at 0.92.
Niemann was 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA before landing on the DL with lower back strain. Since returning, he is 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA, lowering his overall ERA to 3.51. Over his last three starts he has a 0.87 ERA.
``I felt like the whole game it was 1-2-3 and we were back on the bench,' Zobrist said.
Wedge said it was a dismal offensive effort.
``I didn't think we were particularly good today,' he said. ``A couple guys had some good passes at the ball but overall we didn't get anything going.'
NOTES: Before the game, the Mariners designated DH Jack Cust for assignment to make room for Bedard. ``He's a class act. He was good in the clubhouse, good teammate, hard worker,' Wedge said. ``He just really wasn't able to get it going for us this year.' Cust, 32, who signed a $2.5 million, one-year deal, hit just .213 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 67 games. ... Wedge is considering going with a six-man rotation to help preserve the young arms on the staff.
The Associated Press News Service
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