Rays aiming for 10th straight against Mariners

BY foxsports • July 21, 2012

The Seattle Mariners might provide the Tampa Bay Rays with a good opportunity to begin a run in the positive direction.

After rallying to win the opener of this set in extra innings, the Rays look for a third consecutive victory overall and 10th straight against the Mariners on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

Ben Zobrist delivered a game-winning double in the 14th inning as Tampa Bay (49-45) rallied from a pair of one-run deficits to beat Seattle 4-3 on Friday. The victory marked the first time since July 2-3 that the Rays have won back-to-back games.

"It's kind of a relief when you win a game like that," Zobrist said.

Tampa Bay also extended its winning streak over the Mariners (40-55) to nine games, including eight straight at home since a 6-2 loss there Sept. 26, 2010. The Rays have won 12 of 13 against Seattle at Tropicana Field.

Zobrist is 4 for 8 in the last two games after going 0 for 9 in the previous three. Teammate B.J. Upton hit his ninth homer, and is 5 for 11 over the last two contests.

Zobrist is batting .412 (7 for 17) with three doubles against scheduled Seattle starter Jason Vargas (9-7, 4.09 ERA), who looks to match a career high for wins while trying to win his third consecutive start.

Vargas, who went 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA in 2011, improved to 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in his last four starts after he allowed three runs on two homers over six innings and failed to record a strikeout for the first time this season in a 9-4 win at Kansas City on Monday.

The left-hander is 1-3 with a 3.90 ERA in five starts against the Rays.

Tampa Bay counters with Alex Cobb (4-6, 4.92), who hopes for more of an economical outing after he gave up three runs, five hits and walked a season-high five while throwing 86 pitches over 3 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Monday.

"Usually when those games are happening, I'm able to make an adjustment - whatever mechanically I'm doing wrong," Cobb said. "I wasn't able to do it."

The right-hander hopes he's able to do that Saturday when he faces the Mariners for the first time since he yielded three runs and struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss July 30.

Carlos Peguero hit a two-run homer and Casper Wells drove in a run for the Mariners, who managed five hits Friday. Seattle averaged 7.8 runs and 12.5 hits while winning three of its previous four contests.

"We just weren't able to get anything going offensively in extra innings," manager Eric Wedge said. "Our pitching staff did a great job."

Though Ichiro Suzuki went 1 for 6 in the opener, he is batting .306 (15 for 49) in the last 10 games after going 0 for 20 in his previous five.