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Rays end their misery in Seattle, beat Mariners 5-3

Nine-game losing streak over last three years come to an end as Rays take advantage of Mariners mistakes with late rally.
The Rays' Eric Sogard, right, heads in to score as Ji-Man Choi heads to first base on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Mariners on Friday. Tampa Bay manufactured three runs in the ninth to help pull out a 5-3 win. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The Rays' Eric Sogard, right, heads in to score as Ji-Man Choi heads to first base on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Mariners on Friday. Tampa Bay manufactured three runs in the ninth to help pull out a 5-3 win. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Published Aug. 10, 2019
Updated Aug. 10, 2019

SEATTLE – The Rays hadn’t won a game in Seattle since June 2015, losing nine straight since then and in all kinds of ways.

So they had little concern for the aesthetic value of Friday’s 5-3 victory.

"It doesn’t matter, a win is a win,'' shortstop Willy Adames said, and he wasn’t the only one with some version of that.

The game was tied 2-2 when the Rays took advantage of some Mariners sloppiness on the mound and in the field in the ninth and scored three.

A single by Eric Sogard, pinch-hitting for Matt Duffy, and a walk by Kevin Kiermaier got them started. A sac bunt by Mike Brosseau and an intentional walk of No. 9 hitter Willy Adames set them up with the bases loaded.

And then the Rays cashed in.

They got one run on a walk by Ji-Man Choi, who was pinch-hitting for Travis d’Arnaud against Seattle righty Anthony Bass, and worked the count back after a 1-2 start. They got a second when shortstop J.P. Crawford mishandled Tommy Pham’s slow bouncer, as Adames smartly stopped to let the play unfold. And they got a third when Crawford couldn’t make a clean pick up of Austin Meadows grounder and got only a force out at second rather than an inning ending double play.

"Credit Ji-Man a lot but that last inning there were a lot of good at-bats,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of things went our way. We didn’t necessarily knock the cover off the ball, But were able to put balls in play. And that’s kind of what we talk about: Put the ball in play, put some pressure on the defense. And we ended up getting three runs.''

The benefit was clear.

"Absolutely,'' said Sogard, acquired last month. "It paid off. Paid off big time. Multiple balls that were misplayed and ending up turning into runs.''

Cash had a hand in it also, pinch-hitting for Duffy, the veteran who had two hits Friday after coming in with a 1-for-16 skid, and for d’Arnaud, who was their best hitter last month.

"We acquire these guys, we talk about how we deepened, thickened our lineup a little bit, we’ve got to use them,'' Cash said. "They’re all tough decisions. Duff has looked good at the plate, but the way Eric goes up there and gets on base, just betting on that on-base percentage to come into play. And I’m glad it did. There were two, that one and maybe pinch-hit for the best hitter in July later in the inning with Ji-Man. They’re tough, but we’ve got to just kind of buy in to do what’s best with that matchup at that given moment.''

The nine straight losses in Seattle were the Rays most in a visiting ballpark in more than 10 years and fifth longest such streak all time. The longest? They dropped 18 straight in Cleveland from 2005 to 2010.

Of more immediate concern, the win improved the Rays to 67-50 and kept them in control of the second AL wild-card, one-half game ahead of the A’s, who also won.

The game ended better than it started, as Cash made a point of saying going in they were starting Jalen Beeks with the idea they needed him to get deep in the game, then pulled him after 3 2/3 innings as he threw 85 pitches to get theere.

"That’s not ideal,'' Cash said. "We’ve got to be better than that. You’ve got to be more efficient than that. He recognizes that. Seattle saw a lot of pitches, laid off, didn’t expand off him very much, found some holes, didn’t square everything up. At the end of the day, I think any starter will tell you 85 pitches doesn’t work.''

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Beeks knew it, especially with only 50 of those 85 pitches being strikes.

"Obviously I want to get deeper in the game,'' he said. "They did a good job battling with me. ... I’ve just got to do a better job getting ahead of guys and getting some quicker outs. ... I felt good. Honestly, I felt like my stuff was good, just missing a little bit here and there. I’ve just got to a better job of being a little more aggressive and getting in the zone. ... I don’t feel like I pitched bad today.''

The Rays are counting even more on Beeks with Yonny Chirnos joining Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow on the sidelines into September.

"I definitely know I can be more successful,'' he said. "I just have to throw earlier strikes. I’m just going to keep pitching and try to get to a little bit better rhythm early.''

The Rays grabbed an early lead, scoring twice on infield outs, which at least were productive, and other examples of the benefits of putting the ball in play.

But Beeks couldn’t hold it, with a couple of defensive mistakes behind him factoring in.

Cash decided he’d seen enough when Beeks gave up a single that tied it 2-2 in the fourth. From there, Cash ran through the bullpen, in short stints so they should all be available Saturday if needed, using Colin Poche for four outs, then Chaz Roe, Nick Anderson, Oliver Drake and Emilio Pagan for three each. Pagan allowed a one-out homer in the ninth to Ryan Court.

"They were outstanding,'' Cash said. "They picked us up big and kept it right there.''

That set the Rays up to rally in the ninth.

"We’ve had innings like that where we really haven’t given ourselves a chance,'' Cash said. "I don’t think anybody is high-fiving about knocking the ball anywhere. But we put balls in play, put pressure on their infielders to make plays.''

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.