M’s can’t dig out of early big hole

  • Associated Press
  • Thursday, May 24, 2007 9:00pm
  • Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Carl Crawford acknowledged the thought crossed his mind that the Devil Rays could blow another big lead.

They didn’t, but only by the slimmest of margins.

Crawford had three RBI and triggered a seven-run third inning, leading Tampa Bay past the Seattle Mariners 13-12 on Thursday.

Seven of Tampa Bay’s nine starters drove in at least one run, and after four innings, the Devil Rays led 12-4.

Three innings later, that lead was down to two.

“It was like, here we go again,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t really trying to think about that because I wanted to stay positive and believe we were going to win the game and not have another relapse.”

Jae Seo (3-4) gave up seven runs and 13 hits over 5-plus innings to earn the win, but a balky bullpen nearly gave it away.

Closer Al Reyes came on in the ninth with the Devil Rays ahead 13-10. He yielded a walk to Raul Ibanez, then Ichiro Suzuki hit his third homer of the year to draw within one. Jose Vidro followed with a single before Reyes struck out Jose Guillen swinging.

Ty Wigginton had an RBI double, Dioner Navarro, Josh Wilson and B.J. Upton hit run-scoring singles and Jorge Cantu added a sacrifice fly in the third off Seattle reliever Sean White (1-1) as Tampa Bay took a 10-4 lead.

Navarro had a two-run triple an inning later.

The Mariners scored three runs in the sixth and Jose Lopez, who had four hits and four RBI, hit a three-run homer in the seventh to get within 12-10.

Lopez was thrown out twice at the plate in the opening three innings, once while bidding for a leadoff inside-the-park homer in the fourth. He had an RBI single in the sixth.

Mariners third base coach Carlos Garcia blamed himself for the loss.

“We got beat by one run,” Garcia said. “That was the difference. That’s what (made me mad). Those guys battled their hearts out all day long. One decision turned it around.”

Wigginton homered in the eighth for the Devil Rays, who stopped a five-game losing skid.

“It’s a ‘W,’ Wigginton said. “That’s all that matters.”

Suzuki went 3-for-6 in his 1,000th major league game. He extended his hitting streak to 17-games with an infield single in the first.

His 1,414 hits is the second most since 1900 by a player in his first 1,000 games. Hall of Famer Al Simmons (1924-44) had 1,443 hits during his initial 1,000 games.

Suzuki, through an interpreter, said he wasn’t aware of the milestone until after the game.

“I didn’t know about it when I was playing, so it’s hard for me to reflect on it,” Suzuki said. “It was a game that was very easy for us to win, so it was not fun at all.”

White allowed seven runs and seven hits in 2/3 of an inning. Starter Horacio Ramirez left after the second inning with tightness in his left shoulder. He gave up three runs and three hits.

Ramirez doesn’t believe the problem is serious, but has no timetable for when he will throw again.

“It stiffened up in that second inning,” Ramirez said. “My velocity wasn’t there. It doesn’t allow me to finish a pitch. Hopefully it will calm down soon and I’ll be able to pitch.”

Crawford drove in a run with his fifth triple, and Delmon Young had a two-run double in the first.

Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes was held out of the lineup for the second straight game following a published report that his estranged wife sought a restraining order after being threatened by the 22-year-old outfielder.

“The team is fine,” Crawford said. “It really wasn’t a distraction in the clubhouse. We didn’t really think too much about that. We just came out and played baseball like we normally do.”

Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon expects Dukes to play during a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox this weekend, but would not say if he will be a starter.

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