Mariners top Devil Rays 8-7 on Beltre’s 8th-inning single
SEATTLE (AP)—It took the Seattle Mariners a long time to get angry—maybe too long. But they finally did.
Yuniesky Betancourt tied the score with a two-run double off Dan Wheeler (0-4) and the Mariners came back from a six-run deficit to win for only fourth time in 19 games. They moved with 5 1/2 games of the New York Yankees, who lead the AL wild-card race.
“These guys got mad. We got behind 5-0 and they got mad,” Seattle manager John McLaren said. “I could hear them: ‘Let’s go.’ I think it’s the strong guys we have that push everybody. They won’t let anybody quit. You could hear them at the end of the bench.”
Ichiro Suzuki had three hits and two RBIs for Seattle. Ryan Rowland-Smith (1-0) struck out five straight batters and worked 2 1-3 scoreless innings to earn his first major league win—and a beer shower from his teammates. J.J. Putz tossed a perfect ninth for his 38th save in 40 chances.
The Mariners had to overcome a poor start by Jeff Weaver for their 41st comeback victory. He gave up five runs and six hits in 1 1-3 innings, his second-shortest outing this season.
“It’s hard to explain,” McLaren said. “He seemed to be throwing the ball good in the first. I don’t know what happened in the second.”
Devil Rays rookie Jason Hammel, who grew up 20 miles from Seattle, allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked none, but Tampa Bay’s shaky bullpen failed to hold a 7-1 lead.
“The guys on the field today did a great job. We got plenty of runs to win tonight, plenty of runs, and we should have won,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Betancourt hit an RBI double in the seventh off Grant Balfour, and Suzuki’s run-scoring single cut it to 7-3 before Beltre grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
Raul Ibanez and Jose Guillen walked to start the eighth against Scott Dohmann. Wheeler entered and gave up a single to Ben Broussard that loaded the bases. Jose Vidro grounded into a run-scoring double play, but Kenji Johjima hit an RBI single and went to second on a single by pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed.
Betancourt’s two-run double to left tied it. Betancourt also had a big hit Wednesday night, a ninth-inning single that gave the Mariners a 6-5 win over Oakland. He said that game-winner “really helped in terms of confidence.”
“I go up there like the score is 0-0. That way you don’t put any added pressure on yourself. You’re always playing as if the game is tied, not like you’re down by five,” Betancourt said.
Suzuki was intentionally walked and Beltre’s single put Seattle ahead. Previously, the largest deficit the Mariners had overcome to win this year was five runs in a 15-11 victory over the Yankees on May 4.
“It was much better than the long nights we’ve had in recent weeks,” Vidro said. “For some reason, we feel relaxed. A couple days ago that would have closed out to nothing. But this ballclub, it seems, we’re giving the last push. And right at the right time. It’s great to see.”
The Devil Rays, who have a 6.30 bullpen ERA, held an 8-1 lead Tuesday night against Boston before losing 16-10. They also lost Wednesday night at Fenway Park on a game-ending home run by David Ortiz.
“We put ourselves into position with every one of these games and should have, absolutely should have, won all of these games,” Maddon said. “That’s the frustrating part.”
It was the fourth start this season that Weaver lasted three innings or fewer. … Hammel has a 2.13 ERA in three September starts. His six innings matched a career high.
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