Jackson improves to 2-0 as Rays shut out Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Edwin Jackson is beginning to repay the Tampa Bay Rays for their patience.

The right-hander allowed two hits in eight innings and the Rays pulled out of an offensive funk to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-0 Thursday to stop a four-game losing streak.

A 15-game loser in 2007, Jackson combined on a three-hitter and improved to 2-0. He didn't get his first victory until June 24 last season, and had nine losses before getting his second win nearly a month later.

"When we lose four in a row, we all know that someone has to come and try to put out the fire," Jackson said. "That was the objective for today -- to try to keep the team in [the game] and go for the win."

Eric Hinske homered off Miguel Batista (0-2) and Mike DiFelice drove in three runs to help the Rays win for the first time since Jackson allowed one run in six innings to beat the New York Yankees on Saturday.

DiFelice had a RBI single off Batista, who gave up four runs and eight hits in six-plus innings. B.J. Upton's seventh-inning single off Eric O'Flaherty drove in the last two runs charged to the Seattle starter, and DiFelice followed with a two-run single for a 7-0 lead.

The Rays scored five times in the seventh and finished with 10 hits. They had scored seven runs and hit .167 during their four-game losing streak.

Jackson limited the Mariners to Adrian Beltre's leadoff single in the fourth and Raul Ibanez's two-out single in the sixth. He struck out six, walked four and only allowed one runner to reach third base.

Trever Miller pitched the ninth for Tampa Bay, giving up a leadoff single to Beltre before getting Ibanez to ground into a double play and striking out Richie Sexson to end the game.

Tampa Bay pitched a shutout for the first time since a 1-0 win at Boston on Sept. 10. Seattle was blanked for the first time since a 6-0 loss at Anaheim on Aug. 27.

"When you throw a game like that to snap a four-game losing streak, it does a lot for your own self confidence," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm almost eager to see how he comes out on his next start and follows up, because he's had two very good starts in a row."

Jackson began last season as Tampa Bay's No. 4 starter and retained the spot despite losing his first eight decisions. He stopped the skid by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24, then didn't get his second victory until July 20.

He pitched the only complete game of his career -- a 3-0, four-hit shutout at Texas last Aug. 11 -- but he thought Thursday's performance might have been better. If the score had been closer entering the ninth, Maddon said he would have allowed Jackson to finish up.

"I just told myself that it's a matter of time and you're going to go through your battles. You can't pay attention to the short-term memory. It can't be like that forever," Jackson said of his 2007 struggles. "I'm going to have my bad times -- I still might have them -- but I need to pick the team up when we need it."

Batista held the Rays hitless until Hinske's solo homer with one out in the fourth. Jonny Gomes doubled off the Mariners' starter in the sixth, then scored on DiFelice's broken-bat single for a 2-0 lead.

The Mariners went 2-5 on a seven-game road trip that began with four straight losses at Baltimore.

"It was not a good road trip," Seattle manager John McLaren said. "We did win the [Tampa Bay] series, but the Baltimore series really set us back. Now we've got to go home and get a winning streak started."

Game notes
Seattle C Kenji Johjima is in an 0-for-22 slump. ... Mariners closer J.J. Putz threw for 10 minutes on level ground in his second throwing session since injuring his rib cage on April 1. He could be cleared soon to work off a mound. "No problems, we feel good about that," McLaren said. "A real positive throwing session for J.J." ... Tampa Bay 3B Willy Aybar sat out with a sore left hamstring. He was replaced by Hinske. ... Rays LHP Scott Kazmir, on the 15-day DL because of an elbow strain, is scheduled to throw a batting practice session Friday.