Mariners 5, Devil Rays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The way Richie Sexson has been hitting lately, he wasn’t sure his grounder would get through the infield.
“Right when I hit it, my thought was: `Who’s catching it now?’ But it went through the hole,” the Seattle first baseman said after his fifth-inning, bases-loaded single between third and short helped the Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-2 on Tuesday night.
Sexson, who’s hitting .175, snapped an 0-for-15 drought with runners in scoring position and wiped out a 2-0 deficit against Devil Rays starter Scott Kazmir. Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homer off Chad Orvella (0-1) snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth.
“This time last year, Richie was pretty much in the same boat,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said, adding that the struggling slugger’s two-run single took “the monkey off everybody’s back.”
“That’s all we’ve heard for the last two or three days, not hitting with men in scoring position. Richie picked us up. Picked us up big time. It was huge.”
Jarrod Washburn (4-4) settled after a shaky first inning to improve to 10-2 lifetime against the Devil Rays, who took their two-run lead on Carl Crawford’s RBI single and a fielding error by Mariners third baseman Adrian Beltre in the first.
Betancourt’s homer was his fourth, and all have come with the score tied.
“I wasn’t aware about that,” said Betancourt, whose fifth game-winning RBI tied Jose Guillen for the team lead. “I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and be patient at the plate.”
The Mariners added an unearned run for a 4-2 lead in the seventh, when Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error and later was awarded home when Jose Vidro doubled to right-center off Orvella and a fan interfered when the ball bounced above the wall.
Kazmir rebounded from throwing 109 pitches in four innings of a no-decision against Texas last week to limit the Mariners to one hit until Suzuki singled with one out in the fifth to extend his season-high hitting streak to 15 games.
The Devil Rays starter, who hasn’t won since April 29, departed after throwing 96 pitches in five innings. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits, walked three and struck out four before being replaced by Orvella.
“It’s frustrating, but we’re going to keep working on it,” said Kazmir, who has been hampered by high pitch counts all season.
Washburn, who allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, has beaten Tampa Bay more than any other opponent during his career. He improved to 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts at Tropicana Field.
“I didn’t have good stuff, really. Right from the get-go, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” Washburn said. “I was able to minimize the damage in the first inning and then find a way through the rest of it.”
Sexson’s RBIs were his first since May 9. He had gone nine games without driving in a run. … Seattle, which began a 6,273-mile, 10-game, four-city road trip with a makeup date at Cleveland on Monday night, won for just the second in time in seven games. … Suzuki has a major league-best 23 hitting streaks of 10 or more games since his rookie season in 2001. … Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena is 13-for-28 during an eight-game hitting streak. … Devil Rays rookie 3B Akinori Iwamura, on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, played three innings and went 0-for-2 in an extended spring training game. Barring a setback, he’s expected to play five innings at the team’s minor league complex Wednesday.