BY SPNW Staff 09:28PM 07/20/2012

Tampa Bay Outlasts Mariners In 14 Innings, 4-3

After scoring 31 runs on 50 hits with eight home runs during a four-game series in Kansas City, the Seattle offense relapsed into another coma Friday — just five hits in a season-high four hours and 46 minutes — in a 4-3, 14-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The Mariners also went through so many pitchers that they actually had catcher Miguel Olivo warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the 14th.

Tampa’s Ben Zobrist delivered the walk-off hit, a double down the right-field line off Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle’s seventh pitcher, that scored Carlos Pena with the winning run.

The Mariners have lost nine consecutive times to the Rays and 12 straight times to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.

Seattle and Tampa Bay will play Game 2 of a three-game series Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

The Mariners and Rays collectively used 14 pitchers, who combined to strike out 32 batters. Seattle hitters fanned a season-high 17 times.

The Mariners initially looked like they were going to resume their offensive production from the Kansas City series when, in the first inning, Ichiro tripled and scored on a Casper Wells double for a 1-0 Seattle lead.

Seattle had a chance to do major damage to Rays starter James Shields in the frame after he loaded the bases, but Shields whiffed Justin Smoak with a ball in the dirt to end the inning.

Shields, who eventually struck out 10, settled down after the first and retired a dozen Mariners in a row before Dustin Ackley reached on an error in the top of the fifth, and then advanced to second on a stolen base. But Ichiro left him stranded when he fanned to end the inning.

It took the Rays until the sixth to answer when B.J. Upton deposited a Hisashi Iwakuma fast ball 15 rows deep into the left-field seats, making it 1-1. It marked the ninth home run of the year allowed by Iwakuma. Zobrist then doubled and came home for a 2-1 Tampa lead when a ground ball by Jeff Keppinger deflected off Kyle Seager’s glove at third and went into right field.

After Seager got aboard in the seventh with a leadoff single, Carlos Peguero, called up from AAA Tacoma July 15, knocked a shot deep off Shields into the right-field seats for a 3-2 Seattle lead. It was Peguero’s first home of the season.

Steve Delabar replaced Iwakuma in the bottom of the seventh and promptly gave up a double to Desmond Jennings, who went to third on a Jose Molina sacrifice and scored on an infield single by Upton. That tied it at 3-3, and there was no more scoring until the 14th inning when Zobrist doubled off Wilhelmsen to win the game.

The 14-inning contest was the longest for the Mariners in 2012, eclipsing a 13-inning marathon July 8 at Oakland.

Iwakuma, Seattle’s starter, allowed two earned runs on six hits in 6.0 innings and fanned seven, but came away with a no-decision.

The Mariners fell to 10-17 in one run games.

In Saturday’s Game 2, Jason Vargas (9-7, 4.09), a winner of his past two decisions, will oppose RHP Alex Cobb (4-6, 4.92), who lost his last start vs. Cleveland. The game will start at 4:10 p.m., PT.

Following this three-game series with the Rays, the Mariners will return to Safeco Field and open a three-game series with the New York Yankees Monday. The Kansas City Royals will follow Thursday-Sunday, and Toronto will help the Mariners close out the 10-game home stand July 30-Aug. 1.


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