SEATTLE — James Shields won his fourth consecutive start while striking out 10, Evan Longoria homered again, and the Tampa Bay Rays continued their joyride through the American League with a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Shields (4-0) followed his career high-tying 12 strikeouts in his previous start against Oakland by allowing eight hits and two runs. He left after the first two Mariners singled in the ninth.
Rafael Soriano got the final three outs, including Jack Wilson on a three-pitch strikeout for his seventh save in seven tries.
The Rays are off to the best start in the American League since the 2005 Chicago White Sox also began 19-7. The last team to start better was the 2001 Mariners who went 20-6 en route to an AL-record 116 wins.
Tampa Bay improved its major league-best road ERA to 2.21 and baseball's best road record to 10-1. The 2001 Mariners also started 10-1 on the road.
Longoria had three hits, including his second home run is as many games in the fifth. The solo shot soared to the deepest part of the park beyond left-center field off Jason Vargas.
Reid Brignac, filling in for resting shortstop Jason Bartlett, added an RBI single on an evening so cold below the game-time temperature of 48 degrees, Rays manager Joe Maddon joked it was a two-hoodie night — "at least."
Seattle has scored five runs in its last four games, all home losses.
Now even the Mariners' vaunted defense is betraying them. They had four errors, three by usually reliable shortstop Wilson. Wilson had three errors in 23 games entering Tuesday.
His last one was for falling over his own feet while throwing to first on a ground ball by Carlos Pena in the seventh.
Pinch-hitter Willy Aybar then hit a blooper that fell between usually golden center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, Wilson and left fielder Ryan Langerhans — a defensive replacement minutes earlier.
Milton Bradley was 0-for-3 and struck out twice in his first game as the cleanup batter since April 9.
How bad have Seattle's fans soured on the Mariners' offense? The crowd of 14,589 — the second-lowest in Safeco Field's 10-year history — booed Ken Griffey Jr. after the 40-year-old civic icon swung over a pitch that skimmed the dirt. That ended the "rally" in the sixth and kept the home team down 3-1.
Griffey was 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout in the ninth. He is batting .210 and has one extra-base hit in 19 games.
Seattle's latest embarrassment came after manager Don Wakamatsu held an afternoon meeting to stress better fundamentals from his hitters.
Through it all another Mariners starter deserved better, this one Jason Vargas (2-2). He allowed just four hits and three runs while striking out a career-high eight in 6 2-3 innings.
Tampa Bay began the scoring when Carl Crawford walked with two outs in the third, then scored standing up from first base on a double by Ben Zobrist off the left-field wall. Crawford is so fast, he was halfway to third base before Zobrist's drive landed on the warning track.
Soriano pitched in Seattle for the first time since Aug. 29, 2006, when he was still with the Mariners. … The last time Safeco Field had a game-time temperature in the 40s in May was May 11, 2008. … Rays CF B.J. Upton was not in the lineup for the first time this season, though he pinch-ran for Aybar in the seventh and stayed in the game. SS Jason Bartlett rested for only the third time. Manager Joe Maddon said he saw it as a good chance to get each two days off, following Monday's travel day. … It was the fifth time in Seattle history a Mariners SS had three errors in a game. The last was by Mike Morse on July 20, 2005.
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