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Vargas’ strong start leads M’s past Rays

Seattle Mariners logo. (S-R)
Seattle Mariners logo. (S-R)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jason Vargas took a shutout into the seventh inning, Michael Saunders had two RBIs, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Saturday night.

Vargas (10-7) gave up one run and seven hits in six-plus innings as the Mariners stopped a nine-game losing streak against the Rays.

Seattle loaded the bases with two outs in the first and took a 2-0 lead on Saunders’ line single to left off Alex Cobb (4-7), who left after bruising his right lower leg after the second.

Tom Wilhelmsen, the fourth Seattle reliever, pitched the ninth for his ninth save.

Desmond Jennings singled against Vargas leading off the seventh and scored to cut deficit to 2-1 when right fielder Ichiro Suzuki made a bad throw to third attempting to record an out on Jose Labaton’s single.

Cobb made a nifty play after taking Suzuki’s second-inning grounder off his leg. The right-hander chased down the ball after it went toward the plate and flipped it to Labaton, who tagged out Carlos Peguero as he tried to score from third.

Cobb went down to the ground after the inning-ending play and needed assistance to leave the field. He allowed two runs, three hits and two walks in two innings.

Cesar Ramos, recalled from Triple-A Durham after Tampa Bay placed designated hitter Luke Scott on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique injury, replaced Cobb and gave up two hits and struck out six over four scoreless innings.

Four Tampa Bay relievers combined for seven shutout innings.


Seattle OF Franklin Gutierrez (concussion) has experienced headaches and has been shut down from working out until being evaluated on Monday. … Tampa Bay RHP Jeff Niemann threw 25 pitches, pushing off at 50 to 75 percent, in his first bullpen session since breaking his right fibula in mid-May. … Mariners RHP Erasmo Ramirez (right elbow flexor) threw a simulated game and is scheduled to start a minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday. … Rays 3B Evan Longoria, out since May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring, lightly ran the bases and fielded grounders. … Tampa Bay INF Ben Zobrist’s game-winning hit in the 14th inning Friday night was changed from a double to a triple.