With All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria sidelined for the next four-to-eight weeks with a partially torn left hamstring, Matt Joyce lifted the Rays to a 3-1 victory over the Mariners in the second test of a four-game series at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
Longoria left Monday night's 3-2 win over the Mariners after the third inning, when he slid awkwardly into second base.
Joyce, who took over Longoria's third spot in the batting order, belted a solo home run and added an RBI triple while starter Matt Moore (1-1) scattered seven hits and walked one over his five innings of work, but allowed just one run and struck out seven to earn the victory.
"I feel very comfortable hitting in the middle of the order, or wherever it may be," Joyce said. "I'm pretty much up for anything. They try to put you in the best situation possible and obviously they want to win games, so I'm open for anything."
Luke Scott knocked in the other run for the Rays while Fernando Rodney fanned all three hitters he faced in the ninth for his eighth save of the year and the Rays' seventh straight home victory.
Hector Noesi (1-3) tossed 5 2/3 innings and was charged with all three runs on three hits and three walks. Jesus Montero had a career-high four hits in the setback as the Mariners dropped their fourth straight contest.
The Rays struck first in the bottom of the first as Ben Zobrist worked a one- out walk and Joyce followed with a triple off the base of the wall in dead center field, plating Zobrist for a 1-0 lead.
Carlos Pena then walked to put runners on the corners before Scott launched a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field to extend the margin to 2-0.
The teams traded solo shots in the third as Michael Saunders opened the third with a leadoff blast into the seats in right before Joyce answered in the bottom half with his sixth home run of the year to give the Rays a 3-1 edge.
"We're missing that big hit right now," Saunders said. "We are getting runners on base and putting ourselves in a position to put runs on the board, but we're missing that big hit."
After Moore left the game in the fifth, Burke Badenhop and Joel Peralta combined to allow just two hits over the next three innings before Rodney closed the door in the ninth.
Ichiro Suzuki's 2nd hit of the game tied him with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith with 2,460 career hits...The Rays improved to 10-1 at Tropicana Field this year...Tampa Bay went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position and left three on base while Seattle failed on their five attempts with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.