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TB@SEA: Ackley, Ryan turn two in the fourth

SEATTLE -- If there were scouts at Safeco Field to watch Erik Bedard on Friday, they didn't catch him on his best night. 

Bedard has been impressive this season, and as a left-hander who is under a one-year contract, he's been the topic of trade rumors as Sunday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.  

But the lefty, who was making his first start since going on the disabled list on June 28 with a sprained left knee, threw 57 pitches and lasted just 1 1/3 innings in the shortest start of his career, giving up five runs on three hits and four walks in an 8-0 loss to the Rays in front of 26,570 at Safeco Field.

"I just didn't have the control today," said Bedard, who fell to 4-7 on the year. "I was just trying to throw strikes, but it might take another start or two to get back where it was before."

Was it the trade rumors that affected his pitching on this night?

"That's news to me, so, no," Bedard said.

Bedard's trade value undoubtedly took a hit after Friday's outing, but he did reach 94 mph on the radar gun, proving he was healthy enough to throw his stuff.

"He was strong, his stuff was good, but he was just erratic," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.

Bedard certainly had major control issues. He allowed three consecutive walks to allow the game's first run in the second inning, then gave up a single up the middle to Johnny Damon that scored two more runs. And that was it for the left-hander.

"In that particular inning, he was up to 33, 34, 35 pitches, and he hadn't pitched for a while," Wedge said. "Couple that with the first inning and he's right around the 60-pitch limit. That's quite a bit, especially for somebody who hadn't pitched in while for that period of time."

Wedge said that he thought Bedard threw a "few too many breaking balls."

"It just had a good break on it, so I thought maybe they'd chase it," Bedard said. "When you get in tough situations, you don't want to just lay one in there."

Aaron Laffey came on to relieve Bedard, and the Rays blew the game open shortly thereafter. Laffey balked right after entering the game, then allowed a two-run homer to Ben Zobrist, an RBI double to Casey Kotchman and an RBI single to Kelly Shoppach.

"Aaron really struggled today," Wedge said. "I mean, he just really didn't have anything going. His command wasn't quite as aggressive as it needs to be, and it just looked like he caught up in it a little bit."

When it was all said and done, the Rays sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning, a season high. Tampa Bay also scored seven runs in the seventh inning on Thursday at Oakland, marking the first time the the franchise has ever had at least a seven-run inning in consecutive games.

In their past nine games entering Friday, Seattle's bats had woken up with a .274 average, scoring 4.67 runs per tilt in that span. But the Mariners, who were shut out for the ninth time this season, returned to their offensively-challenged ways Friday, recording just three hits. 

Dustin Ackley's first-inning single was just about the only offense Seattle would muster. Miguel Olivo struck out three times, while Justin Smoak went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Rays starter Jeff Niemann used the huge cushion to his advantage, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out a career-high 11.

"We didn't square up too many balls, so he's doing something right," said shortstop Brendan Ryan, who snapped his 11-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3 effort. "I think he threw his normal game, and I don't think we made very many adjustments."

On the bright side, relievers Jamey Wright, Chris Ray and Josh Lueke combined to hurl six scoreless innings, limiting the Rays to three hits.

Just two days after putting a halt to a franchise-record 17-game losing streak, the Mariners were unable to roll off back-to-back wins.

"We wanted to see if we could go on a little streak, but we'll have to try to start that tomorrow," Ryan said. "Sometimes that off-day comes at the right time, sometimes it can kind of make you come out slow, and that's kind of what it looked like tonight."

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