Devil Rays 7, Mariners 6

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Kevin Witt led minor leaguers with 36 homers at Triple-A Durham this season. The 30-year old journeyman proved Sunday he can go deep in the big leagues, too.

Witt hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

“Maybe it’s a sign of good things to come,” said Witt, who has two homers in 24 at-bats with the Devil Rays.

Witt signed as a minor league free agent during the offseason after playing in Japan last year. He last played in the majors with Detroit in 2003 before being called up from Durham on Aug, 24.

“He’s a pro,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s wonderful to have in this clubhouse. I felt good about him in that situation. That was a very big moment for us.”

Ty Wigginton and Greg Norton each hit two-run homers for the Devil Rays, who are 16-32 since the All-Star break. Tampa Bay has 163 homers this season, one more than the old team record of 162 set in 2000.

Brian Meadows (3-5) threw two scoreless innings, and Seth McClung pitched the ninth for his fourth save. Willie Bloomquist walked with one out and stole second, but McClung got Ichiro Suzuki to fly out and struck out Chris Snelling to end it.

With the Devil Rays trailing 6-4, Delmon Young singled, moved to second on Carl Crawford’s groundout and took third one out later on a wild pitch by Felix Hernandez. After Wigginton walked on a full count, Witt hit the first pitch from Hernandez (11-13) for an opposite-field homer.

“I just tried to make a pitch down and away, and he put a good swing on it,” Hernandez said through a translator. “I think it was up. As soon as he hit it, I didn’t feel like it was a home run. The ball kept carrying and carrying and carrying and went out of the ballpark.”

Ben Broussard and Yuniesky Betancourt homered during a four-run fifth for Seattle, which had snapped a 12-game road losing streak Saturday.

Broussard hit a two-run homer and Betancourt had a solo shot in a span of three pitches off reliever Chad Orvella, helping Seattle take a 6-2 lead. Orvella allowed four runs and three hits without recording an out.

Norton cut the Tampa Bay deficit to 6-4 in the sixth.

Hernandez gave up seven runs, 10 hits, one walk and had seven strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.

“Felix made three bad pitches, and all three of them ended up in the seats,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said.

Raul Ibanez put the Mariners ahead 1-0 on an RBI single in the first, and Richie Sexson made it 2-0 in the third with a solo homer.

The Devil Rays tied it at 2 on Wigginton’s 19th homer in the fourth.

Seattle loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but failed to score when Adrian Beltre flied out to center. Beltre is 0-for-9 with the bases loaded and two outs this season.

Beltre saved a run with a solid defensive play at third base in the second with a runner on third and one out. He moved to his right to field Jorge Cantu’s grounder near the foul line and made a twisting throw from foul territory to record the out at first.

Devil Rays starter Brian Stokes gave up two runs and seven hits over four innings in his major league debut. He was called up from Triple-A Durham on Friday to replace Casey Fossum, who’ll miss the rest of the season because of a left shoulder injury.

Notes

Suzuki went 0-for-6, dropping his average from .320 to .317, and went 3-for-15 in the series. It was the fifth time—including July 15 this season at Toronto—that he has gone hitless in a game with six or more at-bats. … Suzuki tied a team record—held by Julio Cruz—with his 32nd consecutive successful stolen-base attempt when he stole second in the seventh after reaching on a fielder’s choice. … Tampa Bay LHP Scott Kazmir (sore left shoulder) could resume playing catch soon. “He’s getting close,” Maddon said. It hasn’t been determined if Kazmir will pitch again this season.

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