BALTIMORE — Rays LHP Erik Bedard turned in his longest outing of the season Saturday and won for only the second time in his past nine starts by not challenging the Orioles hitters.
The result was seven innings of five-hit ball in which Bedard, using mostly his curveball, threw strikes on 68 of his 87 pitches in the Rays’ 5-4 victory at Camden Yards.
Bedard, who allowed three runs on a pair of homers, said the plan was to get ahead and stay ahead. That he was getting outs on his curveball was a bonus.
C Ryan Hanigan said not challenging the potent Orioles lineup with fastballs was the plan.
“I figured this team wasn’t going to let him get away with too many (fastballs) over the plate,” Hanigan said. “A lot of our strikes were breaking balls, threw a lot of heaters in, didn’t leave anything out over the plate that was hard. This team hits fastballs. We kept them off-balance. It was a great outing.”
Bedard, who has thrown just one complete game during his career, pitched into the eighth inning for the first time this season.
“He was fabulous. He was really good,” manager Joe Maddon said. “His curveball was a pretty good pitch for him. Everything was a pretty good pitch. He was in total command of the moment.”
SS Yunel Escobar did not play again Saturday, missing his fourth straight game with a sore right (throwing) shoulder.
Maddon said Escobar hit Saturday and is expected to throw before today’s game. Maddon said the throwing session will indicate whether Escobar can return soon or if he will need time on the disabled list to heal.
“He felt pretty certain that it’s getting better and that it’s nothing that’s going to put him down for any period of time,” Maddon said before Saturday’s game.
Forsythe’s big day
2B Logan Forsythe homered for the first time this season as part of his 3-for-3 afternoon. The home run, his first since September, came in the second inning with Sean Rodriguez on base and gave the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Forsythe, who drew a walk during his final plate appearance, has 12 hits in his past 26 at-bats.
“I think it’s just finding a couple of things in early work,” Forsythe said. “It’s nice to see it transition into the game.”
Searching for Cobb
RHP Alex Cobb said he hopes to return to form this afternoon when he faces the Orioles in the series finale. He might be in the right place to do that, since he has pitched well in five career starts against the Orioles.
“There’s been glimpses of me feeling back to normal since I came back,” he said. “The thing I’m working on right now is to remember what it is to make me more constant and drilling that into habits. Doesn’t usually take this long.”
Cobb, who has allowed six earned runs in three of his seven starts since returning from the disabled list, said he took advantage of the extra day since his last start and threw off the mound twice more than he normally would between starts.
“It’s not like I’m damaged goods or anything like that,” he said. “I just have to become more consistent. I can’t have two great games and then a game where I don’t give my team a chance to win and I’m coming out in the fifth inning. That’s the problem, figuring out how to be more consistent.”
The Rays have struck out 268 batters this month. That’s a club record for strikeouts in any month of the season and the fifth-most strikeouts in one month in major-league history. The record for strikeouts in a month is 286, set in August 2002 by the Cubs. … Rusty Kath, the in-game host at Tropicana field, has been selected to perform the same role at the July 15 All-Star game in Minneapolis. … The Rays signed 11th-round pick Spencer Moran and 23rd-round pick Zacrey Law. The club has signed 34 of its 41 picks, including the first 12.