ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon said that, more than anything else, the Rays displayed their "want-to" in their 3-2, come-from-behind victory over the Mariners on Friday night.
"Never say never," outfielder Sam Fuld said.
And there was no better illustration of that will than designated hitter Johnny Damon hustling to beat out an infield single with two outs in the eighth, sparking an unlikely, two-run rally against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in front of 14,884 at Tropicana Field.
"That," centerfielder B.J. Upton said, "was the biggest turning point in the game."
With Hernandez, the reigning AL Cy Young, boasting no-hit stuff, the Rays trailing by one and down to their last out in the eighth, the 37-year-old Damon took advantage of Seattle third baseman Adam Kennedy double-pumping on a grounder to keep the inning alive.
"That's the only thing you can actually control in this game is hustling, that's why I did it ever since I was a kid and continue to do it now," Damon said. "I showed my track wheels that I had back in the day."
Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist each followed up with RBI singles to give the Rays (67-56) their eighth win in their past 10 games, moving them to a season-high 11 games over .500.
"That was definitely just kind of pulling one out of the hat at the end," Zobrist said.
Said Fuld: "An ugly win."
Kennedy acknowledged he took too long with the throw, spoiling the night for Hernandez, who held the Rays to one hit through the first seven innings.
"We gave (the game) to them," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "There's no other way to put it."
Rays right-hander Wade Davis gave his team a chance with a strong performance, allowing two runs over seven innings, while striking out a season-high eight. "Wade set the tone for us," Maddon said.
Davis had little margin for error as Maddon said Hernandez had "really, really good stuff," including an outstanding changeup. "It was a Bugs Bunny changeup, diving off the table," Maddon said.
Hernandez held the Rays hitless until the fifth, when Upton hit a hard chopper through Kennedy at third, which was ruled a single. Maddon acknowledged it should have been an error.
Upton partly attributed the hit call to homefield advantage. "Appreciate it," said Upton, who stole second and third and then scored on a sacrifice bunt to first by catcher John Jaso.
"We did so many little things well tonight," Maddon said.
And it would make for a tough loss for Hernandez, who allowed five hits in the eighth.
"I had all my pitches working, and it could have been something special today," he said.
The Mariners had taken the lead in the seventh, thanks to rookie second baseman Kyle Seager ripping his first career big-league homer, a solo shot to rightfield on a Davis fastball.
"A mistake," Davis said.
But Fuld started the Rays' eighth-inning rally with a pinch-hit, one-out single. And Damon kept it going with effort Maddon said sets an example for others.
"He just put it in another gear," Zobrist said. "He's still got it. The wheels are still working fine, as you can tell."
Said Fuld: "That's vintage Johnny; I marvel at it every time. He's going to be a Hall of Famer and runs out every ground ball like it's the World Series. And tonight it turns out to be favorable."