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Rays delay No. 100 for M's

After blowing a 1-0 lead, Tampa Bay ties it in the ninth, then scores six in the 10th for an 8-3 win, its 50th of the season.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 5, 2001


SEATTLE -- The Mariners can wait for their 100th victory. The Rays were too busy Tuesday celebrating their 50th.

Having blown an eighth-inning lead, the Ray rallied to tie it in the ninth, then blew the game open in the 10th, scoring six to win 8-3 at Safeco Field on a chilly Seattle night.

Ben Grieve started the rally with a one-out walk off Norm Charlton. Pinch-hitter Jose Guillen, in his first big-league at-bat since May 17, singled to right off Jose Paniagua. Russ Johnson hit what could have been an inning-ending double play ball, but Guillen went in hard enough at second to prevent Bret Boone from making the throw.

Felix Martinez then delivered the winner, a hard single up the middle. The Rays kept the hits coming, adding five runs in a 10-batter inning. Jason Tyner drove in a run with a daring two-out bunt, Brent Abernathy knocked in two with a single to right, Randy Winn singled in a run and Steve Cox doubled in the last.

It was the first time in 83 games the Rays won when trailing after eight.

The Rays led 1-0 going to the eighth, riding a second-inning home run by Cox off Freddy Garcia and seven shutout innings from Tanyon Sturtze.

But with Sturtze at the 120-pitch mark, manager Hal McRae turned to rookie reliever Victor Zambrano and the Mariners quickly turned the game around.

Zambrano struck out John Olerud to open the ninth but hit Boone with a 2-and-0 pitch. He threw one ball to Mike Cameron, and Cameron drove the next pitch over the rightfield fence.

The Rays rallied to tie in the ninth against closer Kaz Sasaki, who blew his seventh save in 48 chances.

Chris Gomez led off with a double that bounced over the rightfield fence, and Tyner moved him to third with a grounder to first. After rightfielder Ichiro Suzuki appeared to intentionally let a deep foul ball drop (preventing pinch-runner Martinez from tagging up), Abernathy lined a run-scoring single up the middle.

The Rays didn't get much off Garcia, just three hits over eight innings, but it was enough for a 1-0 lead. The Mariners ace faced just three batters above the minimum.

Cox, hitless in his previous 11 at-bats, drove a 3-and-2 pitch over the centerfield wall to open the second inning.

Sturtze may not have been as dominating, allowing eight hits and two walks, but ultimately was more effective.

Sturtze allowed baserunners in each of the first six innings, but none got past second base. The Rays made several impressive plays behind him, including Cox's diving grab of a Suzuki line drive.

But Sturtze may have made the biggest play himself. After Boone singled to open the fourth, Cameron ripped a shot right back at the mound. Sturtze gloved the ball in front of his stomach, was knocked to his backside by the force of the ball and dropped it. He recovered to throw from a prone position to second, and Gomez's relay completed the double play.

Sturtze allowed two men on in the first but retired Olerud and Boone to escape trouble. He had Carlos Guillen on first with two outs in the second but got a force-out. He had Edgar Martinez on first with two outs in the third but got a ground ball. He had two men on with two outs in the fourth but struck out Dan Wilson. He had Mark McLemore on second with one out in the fifth, after a double that got past a diving Tyner, but he retired Martinez and Olerud flies.

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