SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners misfired throughout the game on chances to push home one more run that could have made a difference – including a 10th-inning opportunity that would have won the game.
Then the Tampa Bay Rays did what the Mariners couldn’t Saturday night at Safeco Field.
A sacrifice fly by Dioner Navarro brought home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning of an 8-7 Tampa Bay victory.
The Mariners, who came back to tie the score with two runs in the eighth, had the winning run within 90 feet with one out in the 10th and couldn’t score.
Adrian Beltre, batting with the bases loaded and five players on the Rays infield, grounded to third base for an inning-ending double play.
The inning might have cost the M’s versatile bench player Willie Bloomquist. Bloomquist suffered a strained right hamstring after his sprint to first base as he beat a relay throw to avoid a double play. He had to be helped off the field.
Before this one ended, the Mariners had used pitcher Jarrod Washburn as a pinch runner and lost their DH with all the late changes. Miguel Batista, who pitched the 11th, was second in the batting order.
Batista became the loser in a game he would have started had he not struggled so badly in the rotation. Ryan Rowland-Smith replaced him and pitched well until the Rays scored six times in the sixth inning – three of those runs off him.
Batista, the sixth pitcher used by the Mariners, walked Ben Zobrist to start the 11th. Zobrist stole second, reached third on Willy Aybar’s groundout, then scored on Navarro’s sacrifice fly to center.
Despite building a five-run lead after two innings, there was an uneasy feeling the Mariners would need more.
Rowland-Smith, making his first start after being recalled from Class AAA Tacoma, had muffled the Rays on five hits through five innings, burned only on Gabe Gross’ home run in the third inning to make the score 5-1.
In the sixth, Rowland-Smith got the first two hitters out, then fell victim to some shaky defense.
It started when Aybar hit a two-out double to left and Rowland-Smith walked Navarro.
Gross hit a bouncer up the middle that loaded the bases.
Akinori Iwamura then bounced a grounder in the hole between first and second, scoring a run and bringing manager Jim Riggleman from the dugout to pull Rowland-Smith. Left-hander Cesar Jimenez took over and couldn’t get the third out.
B.J. Upton hit a two-run double to left, Carl Crawford a two-run double to center and Carlos Pena a run-scoring single to right. Mercy came when Pena was thrown out trying to reach second base.
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