After rallying to win the opener of this set in extra innings, the Rays look for a third consecutive victory overall and 10th straight against the Mariners on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Ben Zobrist delivered a game-winning double in the 14th inning as Tampa Bay (49-45) rallied from a pair of one-run deficits to beat Seattle 4-3 on Friday. The victory marked the first time since July 2-3 that the Rays have won back-to-back games.
"It's kind of a relief when you win a game like that," Zobrist said.
Tampa Bay also extended its winning streak over the Mariners (40-55) to nine games, including eight straight at home since a 6-2 loss there Sept. 26, 2010. The Rays have won 12 of 13 against Seattle at Tropicana Field.
Zobrist is 4 for 8 in the last two games after going 0 for 9 in the previous three. Teammate B.J. Upton hit his ninth homer, and is 5 for 11 over the last two contests.
Zobrist is batting .412 (7 for 17) with three doubles against scheduled Seattle starter Jason Vargas (9-7, 4.09 ERA), who looks to match a career high for wins while trying to win his third consecutive start.
Vargas, who went 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA in 2011, improved to 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his last four starts after he allowed three runs on two homers over six innings and failed to record a strikeout for the first time this season in a 9-4 win at Kansas City on Monday.
The left-hander is 1-3 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts against the Rays.
Tampa Bay counters with Alex Cobb (4-6, 4.92), who hopes for more of an economical outing after he gave up three runs, five hits and walked a season-high five while throwing 86 pitches over 3 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Monday."Usually when those games are happening, I'm able to make an adjustment - whatever mechanically I'm doing wrong," Cobb said. "I wasn't able to do it."
The right-hander hopes he's able to do that Saturday when he faces the Mariners for the first time since he yielded three runs and struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss July 30.
Carlos Peguero hit a two-run homer and Casper Wells drove in a run for the Mariners, who managed five hits Friday. Seattle averaged 7.8 runs and 12.5 hits while winning three of its previous four contests."We just weren't able to get anything going offensively in extra innings," manager Eric Wedge said. "Our pitching staff did a great job."
Though Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 6 in the opener, he is batting .306 (15 for 49) in the last 10 games after going 0 for 20 in his previous five.
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|June 17, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Flu|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jason Vargas came up big again after a Seattle loss.
Vargas took a shutout into the seventh inning, Michael Saunders had two RBIs, and the 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.
"It starts with Jason Vargas ," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "Didn't quite have the command he normally does, but he didn't give into it, either."
Vargas improved to 9-2 in 13 starts this season after a Mariners' defeat.
"I was able to make pitches when I needed to," Vargas said.
Vargas struck out five and walked three.
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 in the second.
"In a tight ballgame like that, those are tough wins to have up here at the big leagues, when you score two runs in the first inning and that's enough for you to win," Wedge said. "We've had our struggles here. It's a good win."
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.
Suzuki's error was Seattle's first in 13 games. The 12-game errorless stretch was a team record.
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.
Cobb expects to make his next start.
"Right in between the fibula and the tibia," Cobb said. "Fortunately it got all muscle, no bone, so there's no fracture."
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.
"That's been our biggest problem this year, the inability to win some close ones based on being able to score the runs we needed to," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Ramos was optioned back to Durham after the game. A corresponding move will be announced Sunday.
Notes: 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.