Rays sting Mariners to halt skid

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Rays scored three early runs and rode the brilliant pitching of Jeremy Hellickson to a nail-biting 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The victory at Safeco Field snaps a three-game losing streak for the Rays and also halts a modest two-game win streak for the Mariners.

Mariners starter Doug Fister struggled for accuracy in the second inning, allowing three walks and giving up three hits including a two-run single to Ben Zobrist as the Rays grabbed an early 3-0 lead.

"Zobrist's two-out base hit for us was a big play," Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters. "That's huge. We didn't crush it, but we found some holes."

Fister took the loss pitching seven innings, giving up seven hits and walking four while striking out six.

"I felt like from the first pitch to the last pitch, I was trying to locate, and I fell short in the one inning, and that's the way the ball rolls," said Fister.

Hellickson, meanwhile, was superb, surrendering just three hits while striking out four and walking one pitching into the eighth inning.

He gave up a one out double to the last batter he faced, Carlos Peguero.

Peguero scored when reliever Joel Peralta gave up a pinch-hit home run to Miguel Olivo, allowing the Mariners to narrow the lead to 3-2.

Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win for Tampa Bay.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)