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Updated: Thursday, August 28, 2003 2:59 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 11 2
Seattle Mariners
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 5 0
W D Waechter (1-0)
L Pineiro (13-10)
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TAMPA BAY 8, SEATTLE 4
 

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo were the latest to take advantage of Joel Pineiro 's troubles.

Huff and Lugo hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning and Travis Lee also connected off Pineiro as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ended a six-game skid with an 8-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners .

Pineiro (13-10) dropped his fifth straight August start and has an 8.31 ERA over that span. The struggling righthander, who had an eight-game winning streak before this month, was victimized by the long ball in his latest sub-par effort.

"I just have to look at it that August is over with and that's it," Pineiro said. "Nothing is going my way right now like it did in July. Hopefully September will be a good one again."

After Lee's two-run shot in the second opened the scoring, Huff added an RBI single an inning later for a 3-0 advantage. The Devil Rays continued to pound Pineiro and the solo shots by Lugo and Huff opened a five-run cushion in the fifth.

Lugo and Huff connected off consecutive pitches, marking the fifth time this season that Tampa Bay has hit back-to-back homers.

"Pineiro had a good fastball, it just looks like he is missing his spots a little more than usual," Huff said. "He's fine. He just made a few mistakes tonight."

The Mariners fell out of first place in the American League Western Division for the first time since April 15. One game behind Oakland in the division, Seattle has lost seven of eight and is tied with Boston for the AL wild card lead.

"We are going to have to play every game to win like we always do," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "We've been in first place more days than anybody else. It's our turn to come back and win tomorrow."

After Tampa Bay rookie starter Chad Gaudin lasted just 4 1/3 innings, four relievers combined to allow an unearned run and three hits over the final 4 2/3 frames. Doug Waechter (1-0) made his major league debut and worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win.

It was a rough night for Mariners superstars Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez . Suzuki is in a 6-for-42 skid after five hitless at-bats and Martinez struck out in a key at-bat against Waechter in the fifth inning.

"Sometimes when you struggle you really want to swing the bat and get it all back and maybe he is swinging at a few more balls than he usually does," said Melvin about Suzuki. "But physically he feels good. He's just going through one of those periods right now where maybe he's not getting some good balls to hit."

Trailing by five runs, the Mariners loaded the bases with none out on a pair of walks and an error by center fielder Rocco Baldelli , who allowed a line drive by Ben Davis to hit off his forehead. Suzuki struck out, but Carlos Guillen walked and Bret Boone followed with a two-run single to slice the deficit to 5-3.

Waechter, whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Durham on Monday, entered and fell behind Martinez with a 3-1 count. He rebounded to strike out the Mariners slugger before a walk to John Olerud loaded the bases. Waechter got Mike Cameron to foul out to end the inning.

"He got some big outs there in the fifth inning," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "Two on and Edgar up, that's not an easy situation. We try and give our young pitchers here a soft landing and that one surely wasn't."

The Devil Rays added a pair of runs in the eighth inning for a 7-3 advantage. Baldelli grounded an RBI single to left field and scored on Lee's double.

Huff went 2-for-4 for his sixth straight multi-hit effort and has five homers in his last six games. Lugo doubled twice and his homer was his 10th of the year, matching a career high.

"We are playing a lot of teams that are going to be in the race so this is really our playoffs," Huff said.

The Mariners mounted one final charge in the bottom of the eighth before Suzuki let them down again. Davis' RBI double cut the deficit to 7-4 and put runners on second and third with the Japanese sensation due up. After a visit by Devil Rays pitching coach Chris Bosio , reliever Travis Harper got Suzuki to pop out.

"If I say I feel good about it (the team's struggles), I am stupid," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "If I say I am not frustrated, I am stupid."

Guillen grounded out to end the threat.

Carl Crawford 's sacrifice fly in the ninth capped the scoring.

Lefthander Mark Malaska relieved Waechter and got one out to end the seventh inning. Harper worked the eighth and All-Star Lance Carter set down all three hitters to complete the victory.


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