Looking for a bounce-back in the wake of one of their more listless games all season, the Mariners found it in a 7-4 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field Saturday. Seattle (32-29) came out hitting early, Endy Chavez getting a leadoff double. He was left stranded, but his start set the tone against Tampa Bay (24-39) starter Alex Cobb.
In the second, a home run from Cole Gillespie, teeing up a 91-mph Cobb fastball over the center-field wall, put the Mariners up 1-0. It was Gillespie’s first as a Mariner. On the road trip, he is 5-for-11 with two RBI in three starts.
Down 2-1 through three, Seattle reclaimed the lead in the fourth after an RBI single from Willie Bloomquist and a sacrifice fly from Chavez. The big hit came the following inning. With the bases loaded, Dustin Ackley calmly connected with an 0-2 breaking ball, driving it off the wall in center and clearing the bases to put Seattle ahead 6-2. Ackley scored on a two-out hit by Bloomquist, who was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
That was all the support Roenis Elias would need in his first start since a complete-game shutout against the Detroit Tigers. Elias (5-4, 3.64 ERA) was not as dominant Saturday versus the Rays, but still showed the stuff that carried him to the brilliant outing Sunday.
In the second, the Rays broke a modest streak of 10 scoreless innings from the rookie left-hander by jumping on his fastball early in the count. Elias needed just five pitches to complete the first because of three early swings.
The Rays’ approach paid off with the fifth hitter of the game. James Loney connected with a first-pitch fastball for a solo home run to right field. They took a 2-1 lead later in the inning after a sacrifice bunt by Ali Solis scored Yunel Escobar, who reached via base-on-balls.
Elias adjusted, throwing more first-pitch breaking balls and locating his fastball down and away. He retired 16 of the next 18 he faced into the eighth inning.
With two outs and a runner on second, Elias fell behind Evan Longoria, who hit a center-cut fastball into the seats in left-center field. Elias lasted 7.2 innings, allowed four runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out five on 99 pitches.
Danny Farquhar got the final out to end the eighth without further damage. Closer Fernando Rodney pitched his third consecutive 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 17th save.
Seattle finished 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Ackley, Chavez and Bloomquist had multi-hit games. Ackley finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI.
Cobb (1-4, 4.39 ERA) pitched just 4.1 innings in his fourth start since returning from the disabled list. He gave up all seven runs on 10 hits and one walk. The Rays have lost 11 of 12.
The start of was delayed due to a ceremony honoring the late Don Zimmer . . . Justin Smoak (quad tightness) missed his second start in three games. He did come in as a defensive replacement in the ninth and is day-to-day . . . The Mariners are 10-3 in games that Gillespie starts . . . The Rays designated former Mariner RHP Josh Lueke for assignment prior to Saturday’s game and called up reliever Kirby Yates from AAA Durham for his major-league debut. Yates pitched 1.1 scoreless innings with two strikeouts.