ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Changing teams hasn’t affected Erik Bedard’s mastery of Tampa Bay.
Whether he’s pitching for Baltimore or Seattle, the left-hander seems to find a way to beat the Rays.
He did it again Tuesday night, ruining Tampa Bay’s home opener with a 6-5 win that stopped Seattle’s four-game losing streak.
“If I go out there and do what I can to help the team win, that’s all you can do,” Bedard said. “Everyday you go out there and prepare for the game. You win, you win. You lose, you lose.”
Bedard (1-0) struggled through six innings but got enough support from the Mariners’ sputtering offense to get his first win since being acquired from the Orioles in a trade just before the start of spring training.
He allowed five runs and five hits while improving to 11-3 in 19 career starts against Tampa Bay. The other 10 victories came while he was with Baltimore.
“He didn’t have great stuff,” Seattle manager John McLaren said. “Looks like he had a hard time locating his fastball but had a good breaking ball. Maybe he was using the breaking ball too much, but we needed that win, especially after last week.”
Richie Sexson drove in three runs, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third and hitting a two-run single off Gary Glover (0-1) in the sixth. In both situations, the Rays walked Raul Ibanez intentionally to load the bases so they could pitch to Sexson.
“It’s a managerial move,” Sexson said. “There’s no hard feelings.”
Brad Wilkerson also had a two-run single for the Mariners, who staggered into town after losing four straight in Baltimore.
They were just 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position against the Orioles and weren’t much better against Tampa Bay, going 2 for 10 and stranding 10 runners.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza left the game in the third inning because of an irritated nerve in his pitching arm. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list following the game, and right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill the roster opening.
Garza was one of the Rays’ big off-season acquisitions, coming to Tampa Bay in a trade that sent outfielder Delmon Young to the Minnesota Twins. He began the season as the No. 2 starter with left-hander Scott Kazmir on the DL (elbow).
The right-hander walked three batters and allowed three runs in the third before summoning a trainer and manager Joe Maddon to the mound. After walking Ibanez intentionally to load the bases, he walked Sexson to force in a run and gave up Wilkerson’s two-run single.
“When I called them out, I said: `Hey, my arm is buzzing and my hand is numb,’ ” Garza said, adding that he experienced the same thing last season with the Twins. “It’s better now, but it still bothers me.”
The Rays described the problem as irritation of the radial nerve, which runs from the back of the upper arm to the lower front.
“It just came up during the game,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Just kind of an irritant kind of a thing where he tightened up and it didn’t feel right. Obviously we’re not going to let him pitch at that point.”
Three days after complaining about pain in his left hip and being scratched from a scheduled start against his old team, Bedard threw 107 pitches before departing with a 6-5 lead. Two of the runs off him were unearned, and the left-hander walked four and struck out five.
Relievers Roy Corcoran and Ryan Rowland-Smith worked the last three innings for Seattle. Rowland-Smith got the last five outs for his first career save.
“We needed that win in the worst way,” McLaren said. “We got sloppy at times, we left some runners on base, but bottom line is we got us a win we needed in the worst way.”
Shawn Riggans and Carlos Pena hit solo homers off Bedard for the Rays, who led 5-4 after scoring twice in the fifth without getting the ball out of the infield.
Bedard walked two batters during the 35-pitch inning, and Tampa Bay scored one run on third baseman Adrian Beltre’s throwing error and a second when B.J. Upton raced home on the back end of a double steal.
Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing with third base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt for arguing after Upton was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
The crowd of 36,048 was just the ninth sellout in the Rays’ 11-season history. … Kazmir said he felt fine after throwing 42 pitches during a batting practice session before the game. … Mariners manager John McLaren said injured closer J.J. Putz (ribcage) is making progress and could resume throwing later this week. … Seattle LHP Arthur Rhodes (elbow surgery) has been throwing off a bullpen mound and is set to join Double-A West Tennessee.
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