Evan Longoria HR backs Alex Cobb, Rays 7-1 over Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Alex Cobb had a successful return after being sidelined by a scary injury.

Cobb pitched five strong innings in his first big league game since being hit in the head by a batted ball two months ago and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1 on Thursday night.

“I’m happy with everything that happened tonight,” Cobb said. “I learned a lot. I got to a point where I know that going forward I’ll be getting better and I can take a lot of stuff from tonight’s game.”

Cobb (7-2) ended his night by striking out Nick Franklin on a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.

“That was really fun to watch,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really impressive to see him comeback from that injury that well.”

Cobb gave up one run and three hits, striking out six and walking two. He said that he never thought about his injury during the game.

“That’s probably something I’ll reflect on tonight, but there’s so much stuff you’ve got to think about leading up to every single pitch that you go through, you don’t have time to think about the what if’s and what happened,” Cobb said.

Wil Myers, who had four RBIs, drove in two with a double and Evan Longoria added a two-run homer off Joe Saunders (10-12) that put the Rays up 5-1 in the fifth.

“He’s a great guy to have back in the rotation,” Myers said of Cobb. “We’re excited to have him back.”

Cobb, activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, sustained a concussion after being struck on the right ear by a liner hit by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on June 15. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and was hospitalized overnight.

“Everybody goes through troubles,” Cobb said in a pre-start interview session with reporters on Wednesday. “If you let it wear you down and affect the way you think and affect the way you live, then it beat you. You got to beat the situation, and go out there and just be happy to be back.”

Yunel Escobar had a run-scoring single in the seventh for the Rays, who have won two in a row after a six-game losing streak. Alex Torres, Jamey Wright and Wesley Wright completed a five-hitter.

The decisive fifth for the Rays started when Sam Fuld lined a single that went off Saunders’ glove. After Sean Rodriguez had a bloop single to center that fell between a couple of Seattle defenders, Myers and Longoria followed with their run-scoring hits.

“I tipped it with my glove rather than my face, which is good,” Saunders said.

Cobb saw Fuld’s drive on TV in the clubhouse.

“It was a scary moment, but I’m glad he was able to get a glove up,” Cobb said.

Saunders allowed five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings.

Raul Ibanez gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the second on his first homer since going deep twice on July 12. He has 25 homers this season.

Myers tied it at 1 with an RBI single during the third. He picked up his fourth RBI of the game on a run-scoring double during the eighth.

NOTES: Seattle manager Eric Wedge, recovering from what the team called a very mild stroke, could return during a homestand that starts Aug. 23. “He’s passing everything with flying colors, he’s feeling much better,” acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson said. “There’s a real good chance he will join us when we get back.” … As part of his season-long effort to keep his players loose, Maddon had a 20-foot python in the clubhouse before the game. … To make room on the roster for Cobb, Tampa Bay designated INF Ryan Roberts for assignment. … Maddon said a conference with the umpires in the third inning stemmed from both starting pitchers saying the balls were slick.