Rays' Shields tops Mariners for AL-leading 5th win

10:42 PM, May 2, 2012   |    comments
James Shields
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Sean Rodriguez and Luke Scott homered for Tampa Bay, helping Rays right-hander James Shields become the AL's first five-game winner with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Shields (5-0) allowed four runs and five hits over six innings, walked four and struck out 11 to win his sixth straight decision over two seasons, matching the longest winning streak of his career. Kyle Seager homered twice off the 2011 All-Star, driving in all of Seattle's runs.

Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Blake Beavan (1-4) in the third. Scott's solo shot off the Seattle starter glanced off centerfielder Michael Saunders' glove before clearing the wall to snap a 4-4 tie in the sixth.

The AL East-leading Rays won for the 10th time in 11 games. The Mariners have lost a season-high five straight following a four-game winning streak that included a sweep of Detroit to begin a 10-game, 10-day trip that ends Thursday.

Ichiro Suzuki walked and Jesus Montero reached base on an infield single before Seager's three-run, first-inning homer snapped an 0-for-30 drought with runners in scoring position for the Mariners, who lost the first two games of this four-game series despite outhitting the Rays both nights.

Seager's third homer of the season, a solo shot into the right-field stands, wiped out a 4-3 lead the Rays took on Jose Molina's two-run double in the fourth.

Shields won again, though he was far from his best. Despite posting a season high for strikeouts, his four walks also were a season high and the right-hander allowed a pair of homers for the second straight start. He threw 38 pitches in the first inning -- 119 overall -- before turning over a one-run lead to the bullpen.

Reliever Joel Peralta got Alex Liddi to foul out on a 3-2 pitch, then Ben Zobrist made a nice running catch in the right field corner on Justin Smoak's fly ball to shut down the Mariners with the potential tying run on third base in the eighth inning. Peralta worked a perfect ninth to earn his first save of the season.


With 3B Evan Longoria sidelined up to two months with a partially torn left hamstring, Rays manager Joe Maddon at least temporarily plans to fill the three-time All-Star's position by committee. Will Rhymes started at third base after Elliot Johnson filled in for most of the previous two games. Maddon said Jeff Keppinger and starting SS Sean Rodiriguez also could get some starts there. "It's possible to pick somebody," to start on a regular basis, Maddon said. "But I really would anticipate it's going to be a revolving door. ... The slumping Smoak was dropped from fourth to seventh in the batting order as the designated hitter Wednesday night. He could remain in the No. 7 hole for a while, however manager Eric Wedge stressed that he eventually wants Smoak to return to the middle of the lineup. "I've always been one of his biggest fans. I know he's going to get it done. But right now, he's not getting it done. We're in the business of winning ball games here, so I had to make an adjustment."

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