Upton leads Rays to win over Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) -- In the ninth inning, Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina broke for second base and, despite a careening slide, was safe. It was his second steal of the year and 14th in 13 major league seasons.
When it's going right, it's going right.
B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer and Alex Cobb pitched seven strong innings to help the Rays to their season-high seventh consecutive win, 4-1 over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
The Rays are rolling. They have grabbed control of the wild-card race lead by winning 10 of their last 12. They again used an efficient combination Monday: Some pop, a quality start and Joel Peralta combining with Fernando Rodney to seal the win.
Cobb (7-8) allowed a run and four hits. He struck out five and walked two in his fourth consecutive quality start and third consecutive win. His ERA is 1.93 over his last four outings. He threw first-pitch strikes to the first 20 hitters.
"Any time my pitches are working, I'm going to have that tempo going," Cobb said.
Upton provided the pop with his 13th homer of the season, a two-run shot to the upper deck in left off Seattle starter Blake Beavan that gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. Upton's homer was followed by a single from Matt Joyce and a double to center by Ben Zobrist that made it 4-0.
Beavan (7-7) pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs with four strikeouts. He allowed all four runs on five hits in the third inning, and just three hits in five other scoreless innings.
Typically, Beavan works off a sinking, 92-mph fastball. On Monday, he threw several off-speed pitches early. Upton hit a slider for his home run.
"(He) kind of threw us for a loop the first couple innings," Upton said.
Peralta took over for Cobb after the seventh. It was the fourth consecutive outing of seven innings for Cobb, which was a formula Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon didn't want to mess with.
Rodney followed Peralta to record his major league-leading and career-high tying 37th save in 38 tries by pitching a scoreless ninth. He extended his club record to 22 consecutive saves.
Rodney celebrates by pretending to shoot a bow and arrow into center field. Peralta, who has 28 holds, just runs off the mound without a gimmick.
"Maybe a slingshot would be appropriate," Maddon said.
Sam Fuld singled and stole second before Desmond Jennings' single drove him in for Tampa Bay's first run.
Beavan allowed five consecutive hits during his 43-pitch third inning. He struck out Carlos Pena looking to end it. After three innings, Beavan had recorded nine outs and allowed seven hits.
"The pitch to Upton is the only one I'd take back," Beavan said.
Cobb retired the first eight Mariners before Brendan Ryan lined a single up the middle in the third. Cobb quickly disposed of Dustin Ackley with a grounder to second to close the inning.
Eric Thames' single through the right side in the fifth scored Trayvon Robinson, who had led off with a triple, to make it 4-1. But Thames was picked off first base by Molina after a pitch in the dirt bounced straight up to him and Thames had taken a few steps toward second.
Chone Figgins walked, then Ryan and Ackley grounded out to end the inning.
"We were in the ballgame, but we never had that inning," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Hard-throwing Mariners rookie reliever Carter Capps made his home debut in the seventh inning. Capps walked three and struck out one.
Zobrist had three hits and Maddon said he will continue to play shortstop, where he started Monday.
NOTES: Seattle C John Jaso has reached base safely in a career-high 10 consecutive games. ... Wedge said there's a "pretty good chance" 1B Mike Carp will have to go on the DL because of an injured thigh. . Seattle OF Franklin Gutierrez changed his medication in hopes that it reduces his headaches. Gutierrez exercised Monday and is scheduled to perform baseball activities Tuesday. He has been on the 15-day DL since June 29 because of a concussion. . Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria received a day off Monday. Maddon said nothing is wrong with Longoria, and he is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday. . Joyce extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with his third-inning single.