Ramirez, bullpen lead Rays to 2-1 victory over Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) Erasmo Ramirez faced his former teammates for the first time, and pitched the kind of game the Seattle Mariners could have used.
Ramirez, who spent three seasons with Seattle before being traded to Tampa Bay on March 31, held the Mariners to one run and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in helping the Rays to a 2-1 victory Thursday night.
''It was kind of weird, first time in my life facing them in a regular game not like BP or spring training,'' said Ramirez (4-2). ''They know me, I know them. I know they have a long (losing streak), but they are still dangerous.
''I continued to pitch good pitches and let my guys play defense. That was maybe the point, the good defense behind us.''
Relievers Xavier Cedeno, Brandon Gomes, Jake McGee and Kevin Jepsen gave up just three hits and no runs over the final 3 2/3 innings. Jepsen picked up his second save in four opportunities and sent the Mariners down to their sixth straight loss.
The game's most critical defensive play came in the seventh, turned by Rays second baseman Logan Forsythe. With the one-run lead, one out and Austin Jackson on first, Robinson Cano ripped a low liner into the right-side hole. Forsythe dived to the left, short-hopped it and threw to second for the forceout. Kyle Seager ended the threat with another forceout.
''With Cano up, he's so good you can't shift heavily,'' Forsythe said. ''I thought I had decent positioning. I just tried to get a glove behind it. We made the play and got out of the inning.''
Right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was impressed by Forsythe's play.
''Honestly, I didn't think he could get there, so I was charging as hard as I could,'' Souza said. ''When he came out of nowhere and caught it, that was just unbelievable.''
Added manager Kevin Cash: ''It changed the whole inning, probably the whole outcome of the game.''
Mark Trumbo, acquired by Seattle in a six-player trade with Arizona on Wednesday, had a pair of singles.
Roenis Elias (2-3) went eight strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out six.
Ramirez also bailed himself out of the jam in the fifth. With runners on first and third with one out, he picked Cano off first base.
''I was just leaving the bag right then and I crossed my feet,'' Cano said. ''And when I tried to go back, it was too late.''
Joey Butler opened the two-run fourth with a single to right. With one out, Forsythe was hit by a pitch. Butler and Forsythe then pulled off a successful double steal.
Souza, who grew up north of Seattle and had a small cheering section behind home plate, followed with an RBI single to center. That ended Elias' 0-for-16 streak with runners in scoring position, over four-plus starts.
''It was a pretty cool moment to play here in front of my family,'' Souza said. ''To do that just makes it more emotional.''
Forsythe scored on Jake Elmore fielder's choice, which held up as the winning run.
Cano's run-scoring single in the fifth made it 2-1. The Mariners have played 37 games decided by two runs or fewer.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (strained lat), on the DL since April 24, threw 27 pitches off the mound in the bullpen before the game. He said he feels better ''but I'm not there yet.'' He'll have another bullpen session Sunday and again Wednesday in Cleveland. If he progresses, he'll be sent out on a rehab assignment. 1B Logan Morrison (back spasms) was a late scratch.
Rays: OF Desmond Jennings (left knee bursitis), on the DL since May 3 - missing 35 games - will see a knee specialist this week to determine his progress. LHP Matt Moore, working his way back from Tommy John surgery on April 22 last season, will have a second rehab assignment this week. It's not certain when or where. He threw 52 pitches in his first one Wednesday for Single-A Charlotte.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was named to Ned Yost's American League coaching staff for the 86th All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
''Cincinnati is where I started my big league career,'' McClendon said. ''It'll be fun to go back and visit with some folks.''
Yost told him in spring training that he wanted him on his staff. ''I'm very appreciative he thought of me,'' McClendon said.
Entering the game, the Rays had allowed just 192 runs, second-fewest in club history after 54 games (187 in 2010). But they also have scored the third-fewest in club history, 207.
Mariners: LHP J.A. Happ (3-1, 370) faced the Rays less than two weeks ago in Tampa, a six-inning no-decision. He allowed seven hits and three runs in an eventual Seattle 7-6 victory. Over his last three starts against Tampa, he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA with 19 strikeouts.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 2.61) has been stingy against the Mariners in his three career starts. He is 1-1 with an 0.69 ERA, having given up just one run and six hits in 13 innings.