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Bullpen exhaustion shows in Rays' 9-3 loss to N.Y.

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Published:   |   Updated: May 4, 2014 at 09:08 AM

NEW YORK -- The Tampa Bay Rays needed a long outing from Jake Odorizzi on Saturday, and they were going to get one, too, since manager Joe Maddon said before the game the young right-hander would remain on the mound regardless of score.

Maddon did not have another choice. The bullpen was gassed from picking up too many innings over the past three games. Another heavy day would be, well, cruel.

Yet, there was Maddon making his slow walk to the mound in the fifth inning, motioning toward the bullpen because Odorizzi could not deliver again.

“We just needed more length out of our starter,” Maddon said after the Rays 9-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Odorizzi pitched into the fifth and left without recording an out. Unlike Thursday in Boston when the bullpen picked up a pair of short outings by the starters, the bullpen was out of magic Saturday.

Josh Lueke found himself pitching in the sixth inning of a 3-3 game because he was Maddon's freshest and, therefore, only option.

Lueke allowed a go-ahead home run to former Ray Kelly Johnson and gave up two more runs in the seventh inning as the Yankees battled back from a 3-0 deficit to win the middle game of this three-game series.

It was a maddening day for Odorizzi, who retired the first nine batters he faced and still failed to complete the fifth inning, extending that streak to five games.

Odorizzi, who struggled the second time through the batting order this season, kept the trend in tact when the next 10 Yankee batters were a combined 5-for-8 with a pair of walks.

“I did the exact same thing the first three innings as I did the fourth and fifth,” Odorizzi said. “We didn't change anything. There wasn't much to change the first three (innings). All the hits I gave up where opposite field and that's where I was pitching, away, away, away the first time through, and we went back to it and they did a good job staying back, hitting it where it was pitched, and they went the other way with everything.”

Opposing hitters are hitting .140 the first time through the order against Odorizzi. That explodes to .465 during the second time through the order.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled to start the fourth inning. Mark Teixeira homered two batters later to make it a one-run game. Maddon said that's where the game took a wrong turn for Odorizzi.

“He was throwing the ball well,” Maddon said. “I think after the homer he just turned a little bit. He stopped making the quality pitches he had been making up to that point. He's the kind of kid who's hard to read sometimes because he looks externally like he's fine. So it must be something inside or maybe still a confidence thing. He's still growing.”

How much longer will the Rays continue to allow Odorizzi the opportunity to work though his problems at the major league level? Maddon said Odorizzi is nit going anywhere anytime soon.

Alex Cobb (strained left oblique) is not expected to return until the first month of June, and Jeremy Hellickson (elbow surgery) is expected back at the end of June, so the Rays still need to plug the wholes in the roitation.

No one at Triple A Durham is emerging as a viable candidate, either.

rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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