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Tampa Bay Rays 3B Evan Longoria returns against Seattle Mariners, ready to go vs. Los Angeles Angels

SEATTLE — 3B Evan Longoria didn't have lingering soreness in his left side Sunday, and the Rays could breathe easier.

Longoria left Saturday's game with tightness in his left side — an area of concern since he had missed a month with a strained oblique — and didn't start Sunday as a precaution.

But he said before the game that he felt better, and he showed it, delivering a key pinch-hit single in the eighth inning, then later snagging a hard-hit grounder and spinning around and throwing out the runner.

"Physically I felt good," Longoria said.

Longoria said he is "100 percent" sure he will be back in the lineup tonight when the Rays open a series against the Angels in his native Southern California.

He'll have plenty of family and friends coming out to see him, and he has a .413 career average and 1.340 OPS in 12 games at Angel Stadium, with four homers and 13 RBIs in 12 games.

"I don't want to miss those games," he said.

Wading in: Most of the 108 pitches starter RHP Wade Davis threw were good, an encouraging sign given inconsistency in his previous outings.

But there were a couple of mistakes: an 0-and-2 single that set up a rally and a 1-and-2 triple that scored two runs by just-called-up rookie Greg Halman, and a two-run triple by Ichiro Suzuki, who had been 0-for-16.

"Davis had really good stuff — way too good of stuff to give up that many runs," manager Joe Maddon said. "He made some pitches I know he'd like to have back, especially to Halman."

Davis had pretty much the same take. "I felt great. I made two mistakes to Halman that really hurt me, but that's something I've got to get better at, executing pitches with two strikes both times. … Execution was better overall, getting quicker outs, making better pitches."

King David: Twelve starts into last season, LHP David Price was 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA on his way to a 19-win season and a second place finish in the Cy Young voting.

He makes his 13th start of this season tonight with a 6-5 record and 3.52 ERA and a strong feeling that he is pitching better.

"I feel like I'm hands-down a better pitcher than I was last year even though my numbers probably don't say that," he said.

Actually, some do, as strikeouts are up (from 57 in 802/3 IP last year to 76 in 841/3) and walks are down (from 32 to 17). Just not the bottom line numbers such as wins, losses and ERA.

Price said the difference is out of his control: "Last year I was pretty lucky, and this year I haven't been so lucky."

Miscellany: DH Johnny Damon extended his streak of reaching base to 31 games, matching his career high set in 2000 and matching the third longest in team history. … The Rays finished a 19-game stretch against plus-.500 teams 7-12. … C Kelly Shoppach went 2-for-3, his first multi-hit game, and first double, of the season. … 2B Ben Zobrist had his third straight multi-hit game. … With seven wins, RHP Jeremy Hellickson shares the AL lead, the first rookie to do so this late since Detroit's Justin Verlander in 2006.

Tampa Bay Rays 3B Evan Longoria returns against Seattle Mariners, ready to go vs. Los Angeles Angels 06/05/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 5, 2011 11:28pm]
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