ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Based on the pitching matchup alone, the Mariners' hopes of winning Monday's afternoon's game at Tropicana Field ranked somewhere between slim and "are you kidding me?"
The Rays were sending ace and former Cy Young Award winner David Price to the mound. In a previous outing against Seattle, he pitched nine innings, allowing one run on six hits with 12 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Mariners were countering with Erasmo Ramirez, who was lucky to even be making the start after lasting three innings in his previous start in Atlanta.
Add in the fact that the Mariners were using a patchwork lineup with rookie Stefen Romero (.217 batting average) hitting cleanup, and it surely was a recipe for a loss.
But it wasn't.
Robinson Cano delivered a crucial two-run single in the third inning and the Mariners got a serviceable outing from Ramirez and a better showing from their bullpen to hang on for a 3-0 victory over the Rays.
With the win, the Mariners completed a 6-1 trip and are 34-29 on the season.
The Mariners scored all three of their runs off Price in the third inning. John Buck led off the inning with a single. Willie Bloomquist later followed with a one-out single up the middle. With runners on first and second and one out, James Jones dropped down a perfect drag bunt, pushing the ball past Price and the mound. When James Loney fielded the ball there was no one covering first.
With the bases loaded, Price was forced to pitch to Cano--the Mariners' best hitter. Price jumped ahead, getting two quick strikes. But Cano seemed indifferent and never panicked. He punched a single into left on the next pitch to score two runs. Romero added another run on a RBI groundout.
And that was all the Mariners would need.
Ramirez worked 42/3 uneven innings. He walked five but never gave up a run. The bullpen was sparkling, allowing just one hit over the final 41/3 innings. Fernando Rodney picked up his league-high 18th save.
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