Rays 3, Mariners 2

Jeremy Hellickson used his fastball and deceptive changeup to

record another victory for Tampa Bay.

It looked a lot like last month.

Hellickson picked up where he left off in May, pitching neatly

into the eighth inning to lead the Rays to a 3-2 victory over the

Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

”I liked his fastball today,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon

said. ”To me, from the side, he didn’t have his typical great

changeup so I liked the fastball usage.

”That’s the thing with a guy like him. When they have a good

other pitch, they always want to go there often and that’s fine,

but if you just conceal that a little bit more, when you have to go

to it it’s an even better pitch. So that’s why I like when he

throws his fastball.”

Hellickson (7-3) allowed one run and three hits over 7 1-3

innings, improving to 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts.

The 6-foot-1 right-hander collected five wins and gave up just six

earned runs in 40 1-3 innings in May, earning the AL pitcher of the

month award.

Hellickson struggled with his changeup early on, bouncing a

handful in the dirt, but eventually settled down. He retired 16 of

his last 17 batters.

”I felt great,” he said. ”I felt like I had command of my

changeup. I bounced about five in a row there in the first inning.

It came around the last few innings and we made a ton of great

plays today.”

Joel Peralta replaced Hellickson in the eighth and yielded a

two-run homer to pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo, cutting Tampa Bay’s

lead to 3-2. But Peralta got Ichiro Suzuki to fly out to end the

inning and Kyle Farnsworth finished for his 11th save in 12

chances.

”I threw a lot of fastballs early,” Hellickson said. ”It’s

easy to throw strikes when you are up 3-0 after the second

inning.”

Tampa Bay got all the offense it needed in the second, taking

advantage of a trio of bloop singles and a pair of walks off Doug

Fister (3-6).

With two outs and runners on first and second, Fister allowed a

flare to center by Johnny Damon that drove in a run. Damon managed

to take an extra base when both middle infielders, Adam Kennedy and

Brendan Ryan, chased the looping fly ball, leaving no one to cover

second.

Ben Zobrist followed with a two-run single into center field to

give the Rays a 3-0 cushion.

”We used the bloop hit to spark rallies and Zobrist had a great

swing on a pitch that was almost impossible to hit,” Damon

said.

”Sometimes you have to be lucky and hopefully that means we can

get going on a streak here soon.”

Seattle had a chance to score in the fourth but Justin Smoak was

called out by plate umpire Darryl Cousins when he tried to come

home on Kennedy’s fly ball to right. Smoak appeared to get in just

ahead of the tag after Matt Joyce made a strong throw to the

plate.

Smoak’s leadoff double in the fourth was the Mariners’ first

legitimate hit off Hellickson, who struck out four and walked one.

Carlos Peguero earned a single in the second on a fly ball to left

that Sam Fuld lost the ball in the sun and dropped in off his

hip.

”We were never able to get anything going against this kid,”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Hellickson. ”He had a good

fastball. He pitched, he located the ball and threw a good

ballgame.”

Peguero added a double in the eighth and scored on Olivo’s sixth

homer of the season.

NOTES: Rays 3B Evan Longoria left in the fourth inning with

tightness in his left side he noticed while making throws to first

base. He is day to day. Maddon said the move was precautionary. …

Tampa Bay 1B Casey Kotchman returned to the lineup for the first

time since Sunday, when he left with an ankle injury. He went 0 for

4. … Maddon said Andy Sonnanstine would return to the bullpen

after allowing seven runs in five innings Friday night. Alex Cobb

will replace Sonnanstine in the starting rotation. … Olivo has

three career pinch-hit homers. … Seattle’s David Pauley got six

outs to extend his scoreless streak to 18 innings.