Rays have no answer for Westbrook

Rays have no answer for Westbrook

ST. PETERSBURG -- If you're a Devil Rays fan, you don't want to crunch the numbers right now -- it's pretty ugly.

And baseball is a game of numbers, so when a team's numbers are indeed ugly, losses normally follow. On Saturday night, the Rays did more of the same statistically, resulting in an 8-1 loss to the Indians in front of a Disco Night crowd of 24,397 at Tropicana Field.

In five of the team's last six games, the Rays have been held to one run or fewer and the team has gone eight games without a home run. Carl Crawford hit the team's last home run -- 280 at-bats ago.

"Since Detroit [Aug. 6-8], we haven't been doing very well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I like the effort ... we're just not hitting right now. We've run into a stretch where we're facing good pitching, but that's no excuse."

And the ugliest numbers of all: The Rays are 13-36 since June 25, and have fallen 30 games below .500.

"As far as getting rallies going, it's just not happening," Brendan Harris said.

Despite the offensive woes, there is far from a sense of panic in the Rays clubhouse.

"All I can say is that happens sometimes," said Crawford of the team's slump. "It's late August. Maybe guys are a little tired right now. [Indians starter Jake Westbrook] kept the ball down tonight real good. Not much you can do with it. We're just waiting to catch that second wind."

Crawford is the least of the team's worries. He got one of the team's three hits on Saturday night and has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games. The Rays left-fielder has 33 hits in August, which is 11 shy of Aubrey Huff's club record set in August of 2002.

Westbrook might have had a little something to do with Saturday night's offensive struggles. The Cleveland right-hander faced the minimum through 6 2/3 innings, en route to picking up his fourth win of the season. Since losing 6-2 to the Red Sox at home on July 23, he is 3-1 in five starts with a 2.06 ERA, winning three of his last four starts. Westbrook now owns a 6-2 career mark against the Rays.

"Jake was outstanding, he did a good job with his sinker and was efficient. He did a great job for us," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.

Westbrook received some help from his teammates in the form of two timely double plays and two home runs.

"I feel I pitched well. The defense behind me played great," Westbrook said. "I was getting ahead in the count and pitching to contact. Every win counts and every win is a big one."

Asdrubal Cabrera cracked the big blow for the Indians when he lined a 2-1 pitch from Rays starter Jason Hammel 406 feet into the right-field stands for his first Major League home run, a three-run homer in the second that put the Indians up 3-0. Grady Sizemore added a solo shot to right field with one out in the fifth to push the Indians' lead to 4-0.

"If you're going to get beat, get beat in the zone," Hammel said. "[Cabrera's home run] wasn't a terrible pitch, but it was a hittable pitch. It was too bad. Half an inch here, half an inch there can make a difference. I gave up two balls that cost us. That's it -- two pitches."

Hammel allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out four in five innings to take his third loss of the season.

"I thought he threw some really good changeups tonight," Maddon said. "I thought he had better leverage in his delivery. You throw that [Cabrera homer] away and he might've had a pretty good night."

Carlos Pena drove home the Rays' lone run when he doubled home B.J. Upton in the seventh.

When asked if he might "shake it up" in Sunday's finale against the Indians, Maddon said he's thought about it, but "there's really not a whole lot of options."

"To really shake it up is very difficult," Maddon said.

And the prevailing feeling is that the offense eventually will awaken.

"This team can score runs," Hammel said. "Everyone in the league knows that."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.