St. Petersburg, FL – Elliot Johnson, who entered the game when Evan Longoria left with an injury in the third frame, fisted a go-ahead bloop single in the 12th inning, lifting the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a four-game set.
In the 12th, Brandon League (0-2) issued a one-out walk to Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena followed with a sharp single to right field. Johnson came up next and his looper to left field plated Zobrist, who just slid in safely after a strong throw from Chone Figgins in left field.
Longoria left the contest with an apparent knee injury following an awkward slide into second base. He walked off the field under his own power.
J.P. Howell (1-0) picked up the win with a scoreless top of the 12th.
Jesus Montero and Miguel Olivo smacked solo homers to account for Seattle's two runs.
The Mariners struck first in the second inning on Olivo's solo homer to left field.
But the Rays had the answer in the bottom half of the frame. Brandon Allen worked a one-out walk, advanced to third on B.J. Upton's double and came home on Sean Rodriguez's single through the hole on the right side, knotting the score at 1-1.
"Those guys can hit," said Seattle starter Felix Hernandez.
The Mariners had a chance to go ahead in the ninth as they had runners on the corners with one out. But Fernando Rodney fielded Michael Saunders' squeeze- bunt attempt and his underhand flip to home nabbed Munenori Kawasaki at the plate.
Montero's solo homer over the wall in right-center field put Seattle on top in the 11th, 2-1.
The Rays, though, tied the contest at 2-2 in the bottom half. Luke Scott led off with a double. Jeff Keppinger came on yo pinch run and moved to third on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly to center field. Two batters later, Upton's soft single into right field plated Keppinger.
"They get on top, but we keep battling back. There's no quit in the group," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
Hernandez fanned nine and allowed one run on five hits and four walks in eight innings for Seattle, while Jeremy Hellickson struck out seven and gave up one run on six hits in seven frames for Tampa Bay...The Rays signed outfielder/designated hitter Hideki Matsui to a minor-league contract on Monday.