Wilson hits rare homer, Mariners stop Rays 6-2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—No need for the Tampa Bay Rays to make a U-turn to Tropicana Field.
The Rays’ four-game winning streak ended. They began the day with a 1 1/2 -game division edge over the New York Yankees, who played Boston at night.
With a win and a Boston loss Sunday, Tampa Bay would have clinched its second-ever playoff berth. If both had occurred, the Rays had planned to return to their ballpark for a celebration.
“I would have been so happy to do that,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays host Baltimore on Monday night.
Tampa Bay, at 93-62, has the majors’ best record.
“I think the wonderful thing about our group is we have a very short memory and it has nothing to do with lack of intellect,” Maddon said. “I think it’s just the fact that we’re able to process the day properly and move on to the next day.”
Wilson hit his second home run of the season, and first since May 10. He was in an 0-for-14 slump when he connected with two outs off Shields (13-14) for a 5-2 lead.
“I was one pitch away from a good outing and getting the momentum back on our side,” Shields said. “It came down to one pitch.”
“He’s doing well,” Maddon said. “He felt pretty good.”
Seattle avoided a sweep and has the worst AL road record this year at 24-54.
“A big hit from Lopey, obviously a big homer from Wilson,” Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said.
Seattle reliever Jamey Wright(notes) threw two scoreless innings before Dan Cortes(notes) struck out the side in the eighth. Brandon League(notes), filling in while closer David Aardsma(notes) comes back from a strained left side, pitched a perfect ninth.
“All three guys, outstanding,” Brown said.
Notes: Mariners INF Russell Branyan(notes) (back stiffness) and INF-OF Mike Carp(notes) (strained right arch) will fly to Seattle on Monday and be examined by the team medical staff. Carp will have an MRI exam. … Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford(notes) had the day off. … Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez(notes) stole his 25th base in the fourth, which gave Mariners three players—joining Chone Figgins(notes) (42) and Suzuki (41)—with 25 or more in the same season for just the second time in team history. Suzuki was part of a trio that accomplished the feat in 2001.