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Updated: Saturday, July 12, 2003 2:58 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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R H E
3 8 1
Seattle Mariners
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R H E
4 8 0
W Moyer (12-5)
L Harper (1-5)
S Hasegawa (5)
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SEATTLE 4, TAMPA BAY 3
 

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Lou Piniella returned to Safeco Field as a blond. He may leave with a few more gray hairs.

Piniella had his return to Seattle spoiled by Mike Cameron , who hit a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Mariners rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays .

Piniella spent 10 years as manager of the Mariners, compiling an 840-711 record while guiding the franchise to four playoff berths. But after last season, he opted out of the final year of his contract and signed a four-year, $13 million deal to return to his hometown and try to turn around one of baseball's worst franchises.

Prior to the game, Piniella was honored in a brief ceremony and cheered loudly by the crowd of 45,156. Known for his temper, Piniella was awarded an honorary base by the Mariners' organization.

"It was well worth it coming here," Piniella said. "It really was. I would have liked to have won the ballgame, but it's a night I'll remember forever. Hopefully, that's all said and done and we can play baseball for the next two days."

"I didn't expect it to be this (the ceremonies for Lou)," Devil Rays outfielder Aubrey Huff said. "I had no idea it was going to be that big. It was pretty cool to see how loved he was here."

Piniella, who recently dyed his hair blond to fulfill a promise after his club reeled off three straight wins, watched the Devil Rays build a 3-0 lead. But Bret Boone hit a three-run homer in the bottom of third inning to tie it before Cameron put the Mariners ahead for good in the eighth with his blast off Travis Harper (1-5).

"There was no special thrill. We just needed to get a win," Cameron said.

"Before the game there was a lot of hoopla, and rightfully so, a great man coming back here to a place he built," said Mariners manager Bob Melvin , who replaced Piniella. "But once the game starter, it's another story."

It was the 19th one-run loss this season for the Devil Rays , who own baseball's second-worst record at 31-59.

Cameron's 13th homer made winner of All-Star Jamie Moyer (12-5), who gave up three runs and eight hits in eight innings. The 40-year-old lefthander walked one and struck out five.

Moyer commented on Piniella's return.

"It's not like anything new, except he was on the other side of the field," he said. "That's about the extent of it. I have the utmost respect for Lou and the opportunities he's allowed me, but tonight he's on the other side of the field."

Shigetoshi Hasegawa retired the side in order in the ninth for his fifth save.

In his first start since being named to his first All-Star Game, Moyer struggled in the opening inning when he gave up two runs and four hits.

Carl Crawford led off with a single and, after rookie Rocco Baldelli popped out, Aubrey Huff singled to put runners on the corners. Travis Lee lofted a sacrifice fly and Ben Grieve walked before Damian Rolls ripped an single to make it 2-0. Moyer retired Toby Hall on a fly ball to leave the bases loaded.

Huff extended the lead to start the third, sending a 2-2 pitch from Moyer over the right field wall for his 17th homer.

After surrendering the homer, Moyer settled in and scattered just three singles the rest of the way as he matched his longest outing of the season.

Tampa Bay starter Jeremi Gonzalez worked around a pair singles in the first two innings before Seattle tied it in the third with one swing of the bat.

Ichiro Suzuki reached on an infield hit with one out and Carlos Guillen walked to set the stage for Boone, who deposited an 0-1 pitch deep into the left field seats for his 23rd homer.

Gonzalez recovered from the homer and allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out six.


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