Rays keep slipping, fall to Mariners

Scott Johnson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- The Tampa Bay Rays' two-week slide from near wild-card certainty continued Friday night when a costly error in the bottom of the eighth inning led to a 6-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
   Center fielder Desmond Jennings dropped a sure out before Seattle's Justin Smoak drove in two unearned runs with a two-out double, handing Tampa Bay its 10th loss in 13 games. The Devil Rays (77-63) now lead Cleveland and Baltimore by just two games in the race for the second wild-card berth in the American League playoffs.
"It's a real frustrating time for us right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I've used that word a lot over the last two weeks."
   Tampa's Wil Myers nearly made up for the Jennings error with a diving catch of his own, but he failed to come up with Smoak's liner down the right-field line as Seattle broke a 4-4 tie.
"I was just praying it would get down," Smoak said, "and luckily it hit some grass down there."
Myers said of the near-miss of what would have been a highlight catch: "I gave it a good effort. (The ball) just hit off the heel of my glove. I over-dove it a little bit."
The more devastating defensive miss came on Seager's fly ball that Jennings tracked down earlier in the eighth, only to have it bounce off his glove.
"I saw it, I had it -- I mean, I thought I had it," said Jennings, who cost the Rays a game earlier this season with a similar defensive lapse. "There wasn't anything that should have kept me from making (the catch)."
   Reliever Joel Peralta (2-6) suffered the loss despite not giving up an earned run, and Seattle's Carter Capps (3-3) got through a shaky eighth inning to post his first win since April.
Danny Farquhar pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his 13th save of the season for the Mariners (64-77).
   Tampa Bay's Delmon Young, in his second stint with the Rays after being signed to a minor league contract two weeks ago, had a solo home run and a sixth-inning double but also a costly strikeout to end the seventh with two runners on base.
   He also made the second out of the ninth inning with a flyout to right field before Farquhar got Myers to hit into a game-ending groundout.
   A pinch-double by Tampa's Luke Scott tied the score at 4 with two outs in the eighth, but that clutch hit came after pinch-runner Sean Rodriguez was picked off second base. Rodriguez would have easily scored on the double, but the Rays had to settle for a tie instead of a one-run lead heading into the ninth.
"I (messed) up, plain and simple," Rodriguez said of getting picked off of second base. "It can't happen."
Maddon said the pick-off play was the thing that most frustrated him about the latest loss.
"You could do a lot of different thing, but you can't get picked off second base," he said. "That's the thing that can't happen."
   The Rays stranded 12 runners.
"It's like having a bad red-zone offense; we just can't punch it through," Maddon said, using a football analogy to describe his team's struggles at the plate with runners on. "It's like getting inside the 20 (yard line) and getting three points every time."
   Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Tampa's Alex Cobb went six innings -- giving up seven hits and four runs while striking out five -- but neither pitcher factored into the decision.
   NOTES: A young fan was hit in the head when Kendrys Morales lost control of his bat and it flew into the stands after swinging at a third strike to end the third inning. Medical personnel escorted the injured fan for treatment. ... If the 41-year-old Ibanez hits three more homers, he will become the oldest player in history to reach 30 for a season. ... The last time the Rays played in Seattle, Felix Hernandez tossed a perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012. Hernandez is not scheduled to pitch in this series.

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