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Updated: 03/30/2013 07:07:36PM

Niemann’s up-and-down day

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Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann (34) faces Baltimore during the first inning Friday at Charlotte Sports Park.

Photo by Tom O'Neill

By Greg Zeck

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PORT CHARLOTTE — With Roberto Hernandez’s strong
outing for Tampa Bay on Thursday, the pressure Friday was on Jeff Niemann, who is competing with Hernandez for the final spot in the rotation.

Niemann started strong with four shutout innings but faded in his final two, allowing five runs on 10 hits and a walk with five strikeouts. He said afterward that he didn’t believe the runs he gave up were indicative of how he pitched, citing a ground-rule double and a pair of defensive shifts that didn’t pan out.

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