Navarro’s sacrifice fly leads Rays over Mariners
SEATTLE (AP)—A little bit of small ball added up to a big win for the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Dioner Navarro hit a sacrifice fly to score Ben Zobrist in the 11th inning and the AL East-leading Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 8-7 Saturday night, matching the franchise record for most wins in a season with 70.
The Rays, 70-46, rallied from a 5-0 deficit and remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Boston, which beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2. Tampa Bay won 70 games in 2004 under Lou Piniella.
“I just found my way on base and we put on a good hit-and-run that happened to work out for us,” Zobrist said of the stolen base. “It was just a bunch of little things. We did a lot of little things well that helped us stay in the game.”
Chad Bradford (4-3) pitched the ninth and 10th innings to earn a win in his Tampa Bay debut. Bradford arrived in Seattle on Saturday morning after the Rays acquired the side arm-throwing reliever from the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday for a player to be named.
Troy Percival worked a perfect 11th to earn his second straight save and 26th in 29 opportunities.
Both teams loaded the bases with one out in the 10th and failed to score.
Seattle closer J.J. Putz struck out Carlos Pena and retired Eric Hinske on a line-out to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Putz had walked Akinori Iwamura, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to load the bases.
Bradford got Adrian Beltre to ground into a double play in the bottom of the 10th to end the Mariners’ threat.
“Bradford, it was unbelievable,” Zobrist said. “It didn’t seem like it fazed him at all to be in that situation.”
Seattle manager Jim Riggleman watched Beltre foul off five pitches before he hit into the 5-2-3 double play. The Rays used five infielders on the play, moving left fielder Crawford to center and center fielder B.J. Upton behind second base.
“He hit it hard,” Riggleman said of Beltre. “You’re not out there with a fungo. You can’t guide it through.”
Singles by Betancourt and Ichiro Suzuki, a fielder’s choice by Willie Bloomquist and an intentional walk to Raul Ibanez had loaded the bases. Bloomquist left the game with a strained right hamstring after beating out the throw to first.
The Rays have won nine of 11.
Trailing 5-0 after two innings, the Rays rallied for six runs in the sixth to go ahead 7-5.
Seattle tied it at 7 in the eighth on pinch-hitter Jeff Clement’s RBI-double and Suzuki’s run-scoring single. Suzuki went 4-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs.
Tampa Bay scored three runs in the sixth with two outs off starter Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Rays then jumped all over reliever Cesar Jimenez for three runs on four straight hits, including two-run doubles by Upton and Crawford.
The Mariners called up Rowland-Smith after Friday’s game from Triple-A Tacoma to make his third start of the season. Rowland-Smith replaced Miguel Batista, who was demoted to the bullpen.
Besides a solo home run by Gabe Gross to lead off the third, Rowland-Smith shut out the Rays until the lefty ran into trouble with two outs and nobody on in the sixth.
Suzuki homered to right to lead off the first.
The Mariners added another run in the first and scored three runs on four hits in the second. Betancourt and Suzuki each singled in a run to give the Mariners a 5-0 lead.
Tampa Bay rookie third baseman Evan Longoria did not start for the second straight game because of a sore right wrist. Longoria said he expects to be ready to return to the starting lineup when the Rays play Tuesday at Oakland. Longoria hurt the wrist after getting hit by a pitch in Thursday’s series opener. … Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 15 games with his fifth homer of the season. With four hits, Suzuki moved past Ken Griffey Jr. for second on the Mariners’ career list with 1,743. Edgar Martinez holds the record with 2,247. … Crawford singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
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