Rays 4, Mariners 1
Updated On: Sep 08 2013 06:55:25 PM CDT
SEATTLE -- The Tampa Bay Rays avoided a series sweep and finally gained a little room in the wild-card chase Sunday afternoon, when some rare clutch hitting resulted in a comeback win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Rays, who were 21-for-132 with runners in scoring position over a 15-game span through Sunday's seventh inning, broke out of the slump to score three runs off the Seattle bullpen in the eighth inning and rally for a 4-1 win that snapped the Rays' three-game slide.
Tampa Bay (78-64) moved to two games up on Cleveland and Baltimore in the wild-card standings, as both teams lost Sunday.
Tampa Bay's James Loney had three hits, the most important of which was an RBI double that tied the score 1-1 in the eighth inning. Matt Joyce followed that with a go-ahead RBI, then Loney came around to score when Mariners center fielder Abraham Almonte couldn't come up with Joyce's ground ball as Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead.
Reliever Jake McGee (4-3) earned the win after starter Matt Moore turned in 6 1/3 solid innings but had no decision to show for it. Moore allowed just five hits, the only damaging one being a solo home run by Seattle's Kendrys Morales in the second inning, before being replaced by McGee with Tampa Bay trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh.
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez was also on his game, pitching six shutout innings while allowing just four hits. Seattle reliever Yoervis Medina (4-5) suffered the loss after allowing all three batters he faced in the eighth to reach base - each of them eventually scored as Tampa took a 3-1 lead.
The Mariners led off the second inning with a solo home run for the second day in a row, with Morales doing the damage this time while giving Seattle a 1-0 lead.
That held up through the eighth, despite a Tampa Bay threat in the top of the seventh. The Rays opened the inning with a walk and a single to chase Ramirez from the game. Reliever Charlie Furbush walked pinch hitter Wil Myers to load the bases with no outs, but Seattle got out of the inning unscathed as Delmon Young grounded into a 1-2-3 double play and Ben Zobrist flew out.
Seattle (65-78) had its own threat in the bottom of the eighth. After falling behind 3-1 in the top of the inning, the Mariners got a pair of walks to put runners on first and second with one out. Franklin Gutierrez and pinch hitter Raul Ibanez struck out to end that threat.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning, when a Desmond Jennings RBI double gave Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead.
Closer Fernando Rodney came on to finish off the ninth inning while earning his 33rd save. Rodney blew three saves in August but is perfect on his past three opportunities -- without allowing a hit in any of them.
Tampa Bay has now won four of its past 15 games while seeing a relatively comfortable spot in the race for a postseason berth turn into the proverbial hot seat. The Rays remain tied with Texas atop the standings for the two wild-card berths, with Cleveland, Baltimore and the New York Yankees (21/2 games back) in the vicinity.
Notes: Tampa Bay, which featured a starting lineup that had only one right-handed bat, used four pinch hitters in the seventh and eighth innings alone Sunday. Non-starters ended up going 4-for-6 for the Rays, who scored all their runs after the seventh inning. ... Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker, the organization's top prospect, is scheduled to make his third and final start with the Mariners this season on Monday. The 21-year-old Walker came into the season with a team-imposed, 160-inning limit, and he's already over 150 innings in starts at Double-A, Triple-A and with the Mariners. ... Monday will mark the Rays' final off day of the season.