ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Doug Fister and Seattle’s bullpen were just good enough to make sure the Mariners didn’t waste another rare power surge.
Franklin Gutierrez, Adam Moore and Mike Sweeney homered in support of Fister, helping the usually light-hitting Mariners beat the baseball-best Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
Ichiro Suzuki had three hits for his sixth consecutive multihit game – one off his career high. Fister (3-1) allowed one run and four hits in five innings as the last-place club won for just the third time in 13 games. The Mariners homered three times Thursday in a 6-5 loss at Baltimore, blowing a four-run lead in the eighth.
“One thing I thought he did was a nice job pitching out of trouble,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I thought it was a great start. He gave us a great effort. It was a good day for us.”
Relief pitcher Shawn Kelley gave up a two-run homer to Evan Longoria, pulling the Rays to 4-3 in the eighth. David Aardsma got three outs for his ninth save in 11 opportunities.
Tampa Bay is off to the best start in the majors at 24-11. The Rays have one of the best home records over the past three seasons, yet surprisingly are 9-7 at Tropicana Field this year, compared with 15-4 on the road.
The loss was Tampa Bay’s fourth in seven games since sweeping the Mariners in Seattle last week.
“We need to start scoring some runs,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who nevertheless emphasized he can’t fault the team’s effort, noting that solid pitching and defense kept the A.L. East leaders in the game.
“We got beat,” Maddon added. “But if we play like that on a nightly basis, I’ll take it. … Some guys are struggling at the plate, but they’ll turn it around.”
Gutierrez, returning to the lineup after missing two games because of a stiff upper back, hit a two-run homer off Wade Davis (3-3) in the first inning. Moore led off the fifth against the Rays starter with his first homer for a 3-1 lead.
Sweeney homered for the second straight day, hitting a solo shot in the eighth to make it 4-1.
The Mariners entered the night with a major league-low 16 homers, but have hit six in their past two games. They had one multihomer game in their first 33 this season.
Tampa Bay trimmed Seattle’s early lead to 2-1 in the third. Reid Brignac doubled, continued to third on a throwing error by left fielder Michael Saunders and scored when Fister balked. But the Rays wasted many chances, most notably in the fifth, when they loaded the bases with two outs and failed to score.
Fister, who walked three and struck out two, escaped the jam when Ben Zobrist flied out.
“He gives us quality every time he gets on the mound,” said Moore, Seattle’s catcher. “He competed, got himself out of jams. Our bullpen came in, took over and did a real good job.”
Mariners reliever Kanekoa Texeira worked two scoreless innings before Kelley came on and yielded Longoria’s ninth homer.
Davis allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out two.
Mariners 4, Rays 3
|Seattle||200||010||010 – 4||10||1|
|Tampa Bay||001||000||020 – 3||6||1|
E – M.Saunders (1), Jaso (3). LOB – Seattle 8, Tampa Bay 6. 2B – I.Suzuki (7), Figgins (5), Moore (3), Brignac (5). HR – F.Gutierrez (4), off W.Davis; Moore (1), off W.Davis; M.Sweeney (2), off Wheeler; Longoria (9), off Kelley. RBIs – F.Gutierrez 2 (20), M.Sweeney (5), Moore (4), Longoria 2 (31). SB – M.Sweeney (1). RLISP – Seattle 6 (Kotchman, I.Suzuki, Jo.Wilson, F.Gutierrez 3); Tampa Bay 3 (B.Upton, Zobrist 2). RMU – Figgins. GIDP – Kotchman, B.Upton. DP – Seattle 1 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins, Kotchman); Tampa Bay 1 (W.Davis, Bartlett, C.Pena).
Wheeler pitched to 2 batters in the 8th. IR-S – Wheeler 2-0, Benoit 1-0, Balfour 1-0. IBB – off W.Davis (Kotchman). WP – W.Davis, Choate. Balk – Fister. T – 2:59. A – 27,856 (36,973).
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