ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tom Murphy is on a power surge unprecedented for a Seattle catcher, and it is coming at a bad time for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Murphy hit a tiebreaking homer, his sixth in the past four games, in the sixth inning Tuesday night to lift the Mariners to a 7-4 win over the Rays.
Murphy’s 16th homer of the season came off Jalen Beeks (5-3) after a walk to Kyle Seager. Murphy became the first Mariners catcher to homer in four straight games. He said it is a matter of “staying within the strike zone,” like he did for two months in Triple-A in 2016.
“I can see it like it was yesterday,” Murphy said. “It was the best I’ve ever hit in my life, that’s for sure. … I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, but it feels like everything I hit was hard hit.”
That’s the same way it looks to Seattle manager Scott Servais while watching Murphy and Seager, who also homered.
“Those guys are really locked in right now, and it’s fun to watch,” Servais said.
Tommy Milone (3-7) got the win after giving up four runs in five innings, helping Seattle to its sixth victory in eight games. Matt Magill pitched the ninth for his second save in two tries.
The Rays, who have dropped to 33-31 at home by losing three of five games to last-place teams on their current homestand, began the day one game ahead of Oakland for the American League’s second wild card. The Athletics hosted the New York Yankees later.
“We’ve been in a rut here for a little while. To be honest, it’s been a grind here since we’ve gotten back home,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Seager’s 17th home run off Rays opener Diego Castillo drove in Seattle’s first two runs. It was Seager’s eighth homer during a 14-game hitting streak, and he drove in another run with a double in the seventh.
Willy Adames and Kevin Kiermaier had back-to-back hits in the second and again in the fourth, helping Tampa Bay take a 4-2 lead off Milone. Austin Nola’s two-out double brought the Mariners back to a 4-all tie in the fifth.
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