St. Petersburg, FL – Ben Zobrist knocked in the game-winning run with an RBI double in the bottom of the 14th inning to lift the Rays to a 4-3 victory over the Mariners in the opener of a three-game set Friday at Tropicana Field.
Carlos Pena ripped a one-out single to right off Tom Wilhelmsen (3-2) in the 14th and Zobrist followed with a ground ball down the first-base line.
Ichiro Suzuki corralled the ball in the right-field corner, but airmailed the cut-off man, allowing Pena to score from first as he slid in just in front of the tag from catcher Jesus Montero.
"Carlos is a good baserunner," said Rays manager Joe Maddon of Pena. "He had it in his mind he was going all the way."
Jake McGee (3-2) earned the victory after retiring the final two hitters in the 14th. Zobrist reached base six times and finished with three hits and an RBI, while Jeff Keppinger plated a pair to give the Rays their ninth straight victory over the Mariners.
Carlos Peguero clubbed a two-run homer for Seattle, which has dropped two of its last three games.
"That's what you play for," said Wilhelmsen. "I like those games, those are fun. Maybe not for half the spectators who left early but that's what the game is about, competitive battling."
The Mariners jumped on Rays starter James Shields early as they grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Suzuki laced a triple into center field and quickly scored as Casper Wells followed with a double down the right-field line.
Tampa Bay battled back in the sixth as B.J. Upton deposited the second pitch of the inning into the seats in left to knot the game at 1-1.
Zobrist followed two batters later with a double into left-center field and after Matt Joyce struck out, Keppinger slapped a chopper toward third that deflected off Kyle Seager's glove and trickled into left field to score Zobrist and give the Rays a 2-1 lead.
Seager singled to start the seventh and Peguero followed two batters later with his first home run of the season, a two-run blast deep into the right- field bleachers to a restore Seattle's one-run advantage.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Rays battled back in the bottom half. Desmond Jennings led off with a double off Steve Delabar and moved to second on Jose Molina's bunt.
Sean Rodriguez then struck out after he fouled off a suicide-squeeze attempt, but Upton came through with a two-out, infield single deep in the hole at shortstop to plate Jennings and tie the game at 3-3.
Shields was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings...Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over six frames...The two teams combined for 32 strikeouts which marks a Rays record for any game...Rays designated hitter Luke Scott left the game in the 10th with right mid-back tightness...Peguero has now hit three of his seven career home runs off Shields.