ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A little better pitching, a little more luck and the Tampa Bay Rays might be back in the win column.
Instead, their losing streak now stands at six.
Rookie shortstop Brad Miller homered twice to help the Seattle Mariners beat the Rays 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“He almost got his third,” noted Rays manager Joe Maddon, referring to a line drive to deep center field that was caught in the eighth inning. “It was really close. That’s no fun. Two is enough.”
Miller, who is from nearby Orlando, Fla., hit Chris Archer’s third pitch over the center-field wall, then homered again off Archer in the fifth.
“It was awesome,” said Miller, who played before about 50 family members and friends in his first game at Tropicana Field.
“Before the game, getting to see, like, every coach I’ve ever had since I was five, my best friend, my parents. And then to go out there and get things going and finish it off with a win, that was perfect. That was a lot of fun.”
Tampa Bay also got two homers from its leadoff hitter, Ben Zobrist. According to the Rays, it is just the third time since 1916, when records are available, that both leadoff hitters had multihomer games. The others were June 5, 1994 (Minnesota’s Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Phillips of Detroit) and July 8, 1965 (Houston’s Joe Morgan and Felipe Alou of the Milwaukee Braves).
After Justin Smoak ended Archer’s night with a leadoff single in the sixth, Dustin Ackley gave Seattle a 5-4 lead on a triple off Wesley Wright.
Zobrist got the Rays even at 4 on his second homer of the game, a two-run shot in the fifth against Erasmo Ramirez (4-0), who allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Danny Farquhar pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Smoak had a two-run single through a defensive shift as the Mariners went ahead 3-2 in the fourth. Miller’s second homer made it 4-2, but it was the preceding single that demonstrated how things have been going for the Rays, according to Maddon. Smoak’s grounder grazed off the glove of shortstop Yunel Escobar, preventing Zobrist from making a play.
“That’s what happens when you’re losing,” Maddon said. “You get plays like that going in their favor, against us. When you talk about good baseball luck and bad baseball luck, it really exists and right now we’re getting some very bad baseball luck. I don’t overanalyze those moments. That just happens. Escobar did what was the right thing to do at that moment. It did not work out.”
The Rays fell four games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Archer (6-5), who left his previous start last Wednesday at Arizona after 1 2-3 innings due to right forearm tightness, gave up five runs and nine hits over five-plus innings.
“I’ll take full responsibility for that loss because if I execute a couple pitches in a couple of key situations, those are the games that we win,” Archer said. “We score four runs, we win because we have good pitching. Nobody scored other than the runs that I gave up so it’s on me.
“I was hoping to go out there and reverse the fortune that we’ve been having, and tonight wasn’t the night. Hopefully (David Price) can go out there and do his thing and get us a win.”
Miller’s first homer was his first leading off a game and the Mariners’ eighth this season. Zobrist tied it at 1 in the bottom of the first on his first career leadoff homer and 100th overall in the majors. The Rays took a 2-1 lead later in the inning on James Loney’s RBI single.
It was the first major league game since Aug. 31, 2011, when St. Louis’ Rafael Furcal and Milwaukee’s Corey Hart did it, where both teams hit leadoff home runs, according to STATS.
It last occurred in the AL on Aug. 17, 2006, in games between Baltimore (Brian Roberts) and New York (Johnny Damon), and Kansas City (David DeJesus) against Chicago (Pablo Ozuna).
NOTES: Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb is expected to make his first big league start Thursday night since getting hit in the head by a liner on June 15. … The Rays will determine when LHP Matt Moore’s next start will be after his workout Tuesday . . . Rays CF Desmond Jennings (broken left middle finger) could start dry swings with a bat in the next few days. … Tampa Bay optioned RHP Josh Lueke to Triple-A Durham.