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Tampa Bay (77-64)000002000251
Seattle (65-77) «11101200x6111

Rays fall to Mariners, wild-card lead cut to one game

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SEATTLE -- James Paxton woke up Saturday morning to a text message from his father and the news that his grandfather, Lawrie, had unexpectedly passed away.

Suddenly Paxton's first major league start for the Seattle Mariners took on more personal meaning.

"That wasn't easy. A very close family and he was kind of the glue," Paxton said. "So it was great my family could make it down here tonight to watch me pitch and I know he was up there watching also.

"It was really special to get this one tonight for him."

Paxton threw six strong innings allowing just one earned run in his major league debut, Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales hit solo homers and the Seattle Mariners continued Tampa Bay on their West Coast slide with a 6-2 victory against the Rays on Saturday night.

Paxton (1-0) became the latest Seattle prospect to make a successful debut, joining Taijuan Walker. Paxton shut out the Rays for five innings and his only mistake was giving up a two-run homer to Evan Longoria in the sixth.

Paxton became the third Seattle pitcher in club history to throw at least six innings and allow one earned run or less in his major league debut. He struck out three and walked one.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge has been impressed with the demeanor and approach both Walker and Paxton have shown.

"These guys have obviously had a lot of publicity the past couple of years, along with a few other guys, and I think the upside to that is you learn how to handle it at the minor league level and you're more prepared to defend yourself when you get up here and handle it appropriately," Wedge said.

Tampa Bay lost for the seventh time in nine games on its swing through Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles and saw its lead in the AL Wild Card race reduced to one game after both Cleveland and Baltimore won on Saturday.

Tampa Bay had a chance to cut into the deficit in the seventh after reliever Tom Wilhelmsen started the inning with consecutive walks and a wild pitch to put runners at second and third with no outs. He got a shallow fly ball to right from Yunel Escobar for the first out and the runners had to hold. Desmond Jennings popped out to shortstop for the second out and Ben Zobrist flew out to deep right-center to end the threat.

The Rays entered the game hitting .159 with runners in scoring position on their road trip and went 0 for 4 on Saturday.

"We're just unable to get the hit when you need to," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I know we gave up six runs, but sometimes you've got to score seven, you've got to score eight. We're still unable to really put an offense together."

Paxton was a big reason why the Rays offense continued to struggle. The left-hander was the 11th Mariners player to make his major league debut this season. He didn't disappoint, with a fastball that hit 96 mph on the stadium radar gun. His first major league strikeout came in the third inning when he got Jennings swinging and Paxton retired 16 of the first 19 batters he faced.

Paxton was cruising until the sixth when he finally made a mistake. Zobrist reached on a one-out error by Kyle Seager and Longoria quickly cut the deficit in half with a long homer to deep left-center, his 29th of the season. The 421-foot blast off the out-of-town scoreboard was just the third hit of the night for the Rays. But Paxton finished off the inning without any more trouble.

"He went right back in there throwing in the strike zone and that's what you need," Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said. "Honestly, Longoria has done it to a lot of people also so it's not like he gave it up to someone he didn't have to worry about."

Smoak went opposite field for his 16th homer of the season in the second inning off Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer (8-7) and Morales added his 19th homer in the third. It was Morales' second home run in four games after going 34 games in July, August and early September with only one long ball. Seattle also squeezed home a run in the fifth inning on Abraham Almonte's perfect bunt that scored Nick Franklin. Michael Saunders and Franklin both had RBI doubles in the sixth as Seattle extended its lead.

Notes

Rays RHP Jesse Crain, currently on the 60-day DL with a shoulder strain, threw a 26-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. Maddon said the plan is for Crain to throw another bullpen on Tuesday back home and proceed from there. ... Seattle prospect Danny Hultzen threw a 51-pitch simulated game on Saturday. He's battled shoulder problems this season and will now go to instructional league before pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Seattle

K. Morales
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
Tampa Bay

E. Longoria
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Desmond Jennings, CF4000012 .245
Ben Zobrist, 2B4100002 .277
Evan Longoria, 3B4122000 .267
Delmon Young, DH4000021 .263
Wil Myers, RF4020011 .289
James Loney, 1B4010003 .303
Sean Rodriguez, LF1000110 .244
   a-David DeJesus, PH-LF1000110 .250
Jose Lobaton, C2000202 .263
Yunel Escobar, SS4000003 .260
Totals3225246  
a-walked for S. Rodriguez in the 7th
Batting
HR - Evan Longoria (29, Paxton)
RBI - Evan Longoria 2 (74)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - James Loney (7, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Rays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Archer (L,8-7) 4432122 3.19
Alex Torres 1.1322110 1.62
Jamey Wright 0.2211000 3.15
Wesley Wright 1100020 3.83
Cesar Ramos 1100120 4.55
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Archer 75-44, Alex Torres 34-18, Jamey Wright 10-7, Wesley Wright 17-11, Cesar Ramos 19-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Archer 6-4, Alex Torres 2-1, Jamey Wright 1-0, Cesar Ramos 1-0
Batters Faced - Chris Archer 17, Alex Torres 8, Jamey Wright 3, Wesley Wright 4, Cesar Ramos 5
Seattle Mariners
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brad Miller, SS4100004 .256
Abraham Almonte, CF2011100 .250
Kyle Seager, 3B4000023 .281
Kendrys Morales, DH4132001 .282
Raul Ibanez, LF3100112 .255
Justin Smoak, 1B4121011 .254
Michael Saunders, RF3021100 .236
Mike Zunino, C4110023 .229
Nick Franklin, 2B4121013 .220
Totals32611637  
Batting
2B - Michael Saunders (18, Torres), Nick Franklin 2 (17, Torres)
HR - Kendrys Morales (19, Archer), Justin Smoak (16, Archer)
SH - Brad Miller (1), Abraham Almonte (1)
RBI - Abraham Almonte (3), Kendrys Morales 2 (74), Justin Smoak (40), Michael Saunders (40), Nick Franklin (43)
2-OUT RBI - Kendrys Morales 2 (24), Nick Franklin (17)
SB - Abraham Almonte (1, 2nd base off Archer/Lobaton)
CS - Michael Saunders (5, 3rd base by Wright/Lobaton)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Miller-Franklin-Smoak
E - Kyle Seager (13, Throwing)
Seattle Mariners
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James Paxton (W,1-0) 6421131 1.50
Tom Wilhelmsen 1000200 4.22
Chance Ruffin 0.2100020 3.86
Lucas Luetge 0.1000000 4.31
Danny Farquhar 1000110 4.20
WP - Tom Wilhelmsen (5)
Pitches-Strikes - James Paxton 95-59, Tom Wilhelmsen 26-13, Chance Ruffin 10-8, Lucas Luetge 2-1, Danny Farquhar 14-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Paxton 12-4, Lucas Luetge 1-0, Danny Farquhar 1-0
Batters Faced - James Paxton 24, Tom Wilhelmsen 5, Chance Ruffin 3, Lucas Luetge 1, Danny Farquhar 3
Game Information
Attendance - 17773
Game Time - 3:04
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Paul Schrieber, Second Base - Jeff Kellogg, Third Base - Mike Muchlinski