Devil Rays 8, Mariners 4

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SEATTLE (AP)—For the first time in more than four months, the Seattle Mariners no longer lead the AL West.

Travis Lee hit a two-run homer, and Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff added solo shots on consecutive pitches as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the slumping Mariners 8-4 Wednesday night.

Seattle fell a game behind Oakland in the AL West. It’s the first time since April 14 the Mariners, who have one victory in the past eight games, haven’t held a share of first place.

“We’re going to have to play every game to win, like we always do,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said with a shrug. “We’ve been in first place more days than anybody else. It’s all day to day, and now it’s our turn to come back and win tomorrow.”

Tampa Bay stopped a six-game losing streak.

Lugo gave the Devil Rays a 4-0 lead in the fifth, just clearing the center-field wall on a 2-2 pitch from Joel Pineiro (13-10), who lost his fifth straight decision after winning eight in a row.

On the next pitch, Huff launched another homer over the wall in right-center to make it 5-0. Huff has at least two hits in six straight games and five home runs in his last six games. His 25 homers this season are a career high.

Pineiro also allowed a homer the second by Lee that gave Tampa a 2-0 lead. Rocco Baldelli started the inning with a leadoff single.

“Everything’s been there—my fastball, slider and curve,” Pineiro said. “Nothing’s going my way right now like it did in July when I got those eight wins in a row. Maybe September will be good to me again.”

Ben Davis hit a one-out RBI double in the eighth, pulling Seattle to 7-4 and putting runners on second and third. Randy Winn walked and went to second when Rey Sanchez reached on an error.

Ichiro Suzuki, though, popped out to third off Travis Harper and Carlos Guillen grounded out.

Suzuki went 0-for-5 and is hitting .143 (6-for-42) over his last 10 games. His season average fell to .327, the lowest it’s been since it was .318 on June 6.

“We all need to look back on what’s wrong with us and then go forward,” Suzuki said through a translator.

The Mariners made things interesting in the seventh. Seattle trailed 5-3 when Bret Boone hit a two-out single off Doug Waechter (1-0), who got the victory in his major league debut.

“I hadn’t thought about it until now,” Waechter said. “It’s kind of sinking in, what happened. It was really awesome.”

Edgar Martinez walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Mark McLemore, and Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella made the change for lefty Mark Malaska to face left-handed John Olerud.

With a full count, Olerud hit a high fly to left that dropped foul by no more than a foot. Two pitches later, Malaska struck him out on an inside fastball that umpire Gary Cederstrom called a strike.

Devil Rays starter Chad Gaudin threw 4 1-3 innings, allowing three runs— two earned—two hits and five walks. He left after Seattle scored three runs, aided by Gaudin’s three walks and an error by Baldelli.

Baldelli lost sight of Ben Davis’ fly to center, and it bounced off the bill of his cap to load the bases with no outs. Gaudin got Suzuki to pop out harmlessly, but walked Guillen to make it 5-1.

Boone’s two-RBI single to left scored Sanchez and Davis, and Piniella brought in Waechter, who was called up from Triple-A Durham on Monday.

“Every time the phone rang out there (in the bullpen), my heart started going like you wouldn’t believe,” Waechter said.

He struck out Martinez and walked Olerud, loading the bases again. Mike Cameron then fouled out at the screen to catcher Toby Hall.

“We didn’t take advantage. They did. We got beat,” Boone said. “Baseball is a tough game. Coming into the series, Tampa has struggled a little, but you can never take them lightly. They’ve played us well the whole year.”

Tampa Bay put things out of reach with two runs in the eighth, then added anunearned run in the ninth.


Boone made a great play in the third on a no-look toss to SS Sanchez for a force at second. Boone stopped the grounder by Baldelli, then flipped it to Sanchez while facing the right field wall. … Waecheter became the 25thpitcher and 50th player the Devil Rays have used this season.

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