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Joyce steps up, carries Rays over Mariners, 3-1

12:35 AM, May 2, 2012   |    comments
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3), right fielder Matt Joyce (20) and first baseman Carlos Pena (23) congratulate each other after they all scored in the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With Evan Longoria expected to be sidelined for up to two months, Matt Joyce may be heating up at the right time for the surging Tampa Bay Rays.

A first-time All-Star a year ago when he led the major leagues in hitting as late as early June, Joyce delivered a solo home run and RBI triple to pace a 3-1 victory against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Joyce had two of Tampa Bay's three hits while batting in Longoria's customary No. 3 hole for the first time this season. Earlier in the day, Longoria was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn left hamstring.

"Longo has some big shoes to fill," Joyce said. "I think the guys realize that we have to pick it up. ... Injuries are part of the game. Guys go through slumps and you have to pick each other up. That's what a good team does"

Rookie Matt Moore (1-1) scattered seven hits over five innings to get the victory, which is the ninth in 10 games for the AL East-leading Rays.

Michael Saunders had a solo homer and Jesus Montero went 4 for 4 for Seattle, however the Mariners went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position to lose for the fourth straight time following a season-best four-game winning streak.

Joyce tripled off Mariners starter Hector Noesi (1-3), then scored on Luke Scott's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead in the first. Joyce's team-leading sixth home run of the season made it 3-1 in the third.

"I feel very comfortable hitting in the middle of the order," said the left-handed hitting Joyce, who figures to get more opportunities to bat third against right-handed pitching. He's batting .346 (18 for 52) over his last 16 games and has 10 extra-base hits in his past 11 games.

Burke Badenhop and Joel Peralta combined for three scoreless innings out of Tampa Bay's bullpen. Fernando Rodney struck out the side in the ninth to earn his eighth save in eight opportunities.

"The bullpen was spectacular," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays learned before the game that Longoria, a three-time All-Star batting .329 with four home runs and 19 RBI, will be out four to eight weeks after being hurt attempting to steal second base on Monday.

A bit of good news for Tampa Bay was Moore finally got his first victory of the season. The hard-throwing 22-year-old left-hander, who started and won the team's postseason opener against Texas last October, walked one and struck out seven in the shortest of his five starts this year.

Saunders connected off Moore in the third. Seattle threatened in the fourth and fifth against the Rays starter, and again in the eighth when Montero doubled off Joel Peralta, but the Mariners failed to get a runner past second in each situation.

Noesi allowed three runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander, acquired along with Montero in an offseason trade that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees, walked three and struck out one.

The Mariners outhit the Rays 9-3. They had 11 hits in a 3-2, 12-inning loss in the series opener on Monday.

"To be a consistent offensive club, we have to finish innings off," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "We're just not doing that."

Notes

  • Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki singled off Moore in the fifth inning to tie Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith on the career hit list with 2,460.
  • To fill Longoria's spot on the roster, the Rays purchased the contract of INF Will Rhymes from Triple-A Durham. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Kyle Farnsworth was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
  • Tampa Bay prospect Tim Beckham, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, was suspended 50 games after a second violation of the minor league drug program.

For a complete box score, click here

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