SEATTLE – Matt Garza became the American League’s first five-game winner, Evan Longoria had the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning off Cliff Lee and the Tampa Bay Rays kept rolling with an 8-3 victory Wednesday night over a Seattle Mariners team beset by issues.
Garza allowed five hits in eight innings before Grant Balfour allowed a run in the ninth, and Ben Zobrist preserved a tie with his defense before sparking the decisive rally for the Rays.
Seattle got a rare, two-run home run from Franklin Gutierrez but little else – except bad news.
Cleanup hitter Milton Bradley is out indefinitely after asking the Mariners for help with an emotional issue.
Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik said their fiery slugger is out indefinitely until he receives an outside assessment and a plan to address his issues.
“It’s come to a head,” Zduriencik said.
A day earlier, Bradley became angry for striking out twice and Wakamatsu removed him from a close game in the sixth inning because the manger thought he wasn’t fit to play anymore. Bradley left the stadium soon after. Several Mariners players described his attitude Tuesday night as “not good.”
Wednesday morning, Bradley called Wakamatsu to ask for a face-to-face meeting with him and Zduriencik. The 32-year-old then arrived at Safeco Field and told the leaders of his eighth team in 10 seasons, “I need your help.”
He told the Mariners’ leaders, and then his teammates in a clubhouse meeting later, that his issues have put him in a position where he can’t compete the way he expects, and that “it’s been a long time coming.”
Two hours earlier, Bradley revealed yet another emotional side.
Joined by fellow speakers Wakamatsu, Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, Bradley stood before students and teachers at Lakeridge Elementary school in south Seattle for the Mariners’ annual education day.
At the end of his speech, Bradley – who recently complained that no one asks him where he’s from, what he’s about – shrugged. With a previously buzzing student body nearly silent and teachers watching intently, Bradley said through glistening eyes: “I’m kind of getting a little emotional right now, because this is my heart.”
Then he waved his hand over the kids.
“The whole world’s ahead of you,” Bradley said. “Someone in here might change the world. Motivation is what’s most important.”
As Bradley sat down, Sweeney hugged him. The five-time All-Star then gave Bradley’s back a comforting pat. The slugger smiled.
•Also troubling for the M’s, reliever Mark Lowe was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed disc in his lower back. The M’s recalled Shawn Kelley from Triple-A Tacoma to take Lowe’s place.
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