Devil Rays feel at home in win over Mariners

The Mariners dropped another game to a team buried in the standings, the Devil Rays. That, coupled with an Oakland win over Baltimore, dropped Seattle's lead in the American League West to four games. They'll host Tampa Bay in the rubber match at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, the final game before the All-Star Break.

July 12, 2003 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 0 3 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 6 11 0
Seattle 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 6 0

WP V. Zambrano (6-4) 8 IP 6H 5R 5ER 1BB 7SO 3HR 3.84 ERA
LP G. Meche (10-5) 5 IP 10H 5R 5ER 0BB 4SO 3HR 3.61 ERA

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays appeared right at home Saturday night, making the cavernous Safeco Field look more like the homer dome they call home - Tropicana Field - hitting four homeruns en route to a 6-5 victory over Seattle.

Devil Rays starter Victor Zambrano, who gave up three homers himself, got the benefit of the run support and earned the win. Coming into the game as the league leader in both walks and wildpitches, Zambrano struck out seven and gave up just one base on balls. He improved to 6-4 on the year.

Zambrano appeared poised to go the distance, but Seattle's Bret Boone and Edgar Martinez opened the ninth inning with back-to-back homers to end those ideas.

Three Rays pitchers - Al Levine, Brandon Backe, and Lance Carter - recorded one out apiece to end Seattle's comeback.

Carter, Tampa Bay's representative in the All-Star game, got the final out for his 15th save of the year.

Olympia native Travis Lee and former Mariner prospect Antonio Perez, the young shortstop who came over in the Ken Griffey Jr. trade of 2000, were two of the four Devil Rays who homered.

They joined third baseman Damian Rolls and catcher Javier Valentin, who each left the yard in the Devil Rays' three-run second inning, in the team's four-homer attack.

Gil Meche (10-5) took the loss, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs over five innings. Meche allowed three of the four homeruns.

Julio Mateo gave up the last of the homers, a solo shot to Lee in the eighth over the centerfield wall, but pitched well in three innings of work. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter, pitching from the sixth through eighth.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth.

Tampa Bay (32-58) took the early lead on Meche with homers from Rolls and Valentin. Marlon Anderson was aboard for Valentin's blast, and the two-run shot made it 3-0.

Seattle (56-35) tied it up an inning later with three runs of its own, two coming on a Carlos Guillen blast. It was Guillen's fourth long-ball of the year.

The next inning, the fourth, it was Tampa Bay's turn to answer. They did so behind the hot-hitting of Perez, who took a Meche offering over the left field wall. That made it 4-3 Rays.

Lou Piniella's new team added a run in the sixth and another in the eighth, giving the young group enough insurance - three runs - to overcome any late-inning struggles.

When Boone and Edgar greeted Zambrano in the manner they did in the ninth, that three-run lead quickly dwindled down to one. But that's where it stayed, as the Rays held on.

Ichiro Suzuki went 0-4, ending his hitting streak at 10-games.

Seattle had six hits as a team. Willie Bloomquist, who went 2-4, was the lone Mariner with a multiple-hit game.

Tampa Bay knocked the Mariners pitchers around for 11 hits, led by the three of Lee.

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