ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
Erik Bedard gave up one hit in six shutout innings, James Loney had three hits and drove in two runs, and the Tampa Bay Rays broke a four-game skid Saturday night with a 7-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Winning his second straight start after 15 consecutive starts without a win, Bedard gave up a double to Ryan Raburn in the second inning, Cleveland’s only hit until Lonnie Chisenhall led off the ninth with a single off Grant Balfour.
Juan Carlos Oviedo took over in the seventh for Bedard (2-1) and pitched two perfect innings.
Zach McAllister (3-3) gave up eight hits and five runs in 41/3 innings for the Indians, who had won four straight. McAllister is winless in four starts since winning three straight.
David DeJesus drove in Tampa Bay’s first run with a two-out single in the third.
The Rays made it 3-0 in the fourth when Loney’s first hit was followed by Wil Myers’ double and the first of two sacrifice flies by Matt Joyce. Yunel Escobar drove in the second run with a two-out single.
Raburn drove in the Indians’ run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Ben Zobrist had two hits and scored twice for the Rays, who had lost six straight home games.
Axford out as Indians closer
John Axford is out as the Cleveland Indians’ closer.
Indians manager Terry Francona announced the move before Saturday night’s game against Tampa Bay. He met with Axford prior to batting practice.
Axford is 1-3 with nine saves and a 4.91 ERA in 17 games in his first season with the Indians. He has really struggled in the last week, and was pulled in the ninth inning of Cleveland’s 6-3 win on Friday night.
“We told him, for now, we’re going to kind of get you out of that role and try to get you in some situations where we can get him on a roll again,” Francona said.
“I told him numerous times, because I mean it, the goal is to get him back as our closer, and I think he understands that. I don’t want him to do it in like two days because I don’t want some Band-Aid. I want him when he gets it, to take it and stay there,” he said.
A group of four relievers that includes Cody Allen, Scott Atchison, Marc Rzepczynski and Bryan Shaw could all get opportunities to fill the role.
“The one thing I assured them is that when we get to the ninth, whoever’s pitching, we’re not going to have four guys warming up because we think you’re good,” Francona said.
Axford was signed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract as a free agent in December after pitching for Milwaukee and St. Louis last season. The one-time Brewers closer had 105 saves from 2010-12, and converted 49 straight save chances during a stretch.
The Brewers traded an ineffective Axford to St. Louis in late August. Axford became a reliable reliever for the Cardinals down the stretch and pitched for them in the World Series.