Mariners, Rays begin set at the Trop

( - The AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays will begin a three- game series versus the Seattle Mariners Monday at Tropicana Field.

The Rays are 1 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees and 2 1/2 games clear of the Boston Red Sox for the division lead. The Baltimore Orioles are three games off the lead.

Tampa Bay split a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics this weekend and suffered a 7-2 loss Sunday afternoon. The Rays have been outscored 12-2 in the past two games and Erasmo Ramirez was the latest victim of the Athletics, charged with five runs in six innings.

Logan Forsythe had two hits and two RBI, while Joey Butler and James Loney each had a pair of hits for the Rays, who had won seven of 10 games prior to the current two-game skid.

"We knew we had our work cut out for us," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We had some opportunities to get some runs but we weren't able to capitalize on getting them across early in the game."

Jake Odorizzi will handle pitching duties Monday for the Rays and is 3-4 with a 2.43 earned run average over nine starts. Odorizzi is just 1-4 in his last five decisions and was dealt the loss in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat in Atlanta and gave up both runs in six innings.

Tampa Bay has lost each of Odorizzi's last three starts and he won his only career appearance against Seattle with six shutout innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts.

The Mariners are 3-3 so far on a nine-game trip and took two of three meetings with the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend. However, the Mariners were denied a three-game sweep with Sunday's 8-2 loss.

Taijuan Walker lasted 5 2/3 innings in the start and was tagged for four runs with four walks and three strikeouts.

"He competed well," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I thought he did a nice job, but he made a couple mistakes."

Danny Farquhar gave up three runs in relief.

Kyle Seager homered and scored twice for Seattle.

Roenis Elias tries to pitch the Mariners to victory Monday and has a 1-1 mark with a 2.76 ERA in five starts. Elias posted his first win of the season in Wednesday's 4-2 victory at Baltimore and limited the Orioles to a run over 7 2/3 innings.

Elias defeated the Rays the only time he faced them and allowed four runs in 7 2/3 innings of work.

Seattle went 4-3 against Tampa Bay last season and will host the Rays for four games at Safeco Field next month.