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SEA@TB: Scott's solo shot gives the Rays the lead

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields gutted one out, Luke Scott got a little help with a long ball and Joel Peralta recorded the final five outs to lead a 5-4 Rays win over the Mariners Wednesday night at Tropicana Field with 9,837 watching.

The Rays are now 11-1 at Tropicana Field and 17-8 on the season after winning their fourth straight game and 10th of their last 11.

Shields made his sixth start of the season for the Rays and looked like he would be as good as his 4-0 record indicated after striking out the first two batters of the game and getting ahead of Ichiro Suzuki 0-2.

"I felt really good at the beginning," Shields said.

Then he walked Suzuki and Jesus Montero followed with an infield single to bring Kyle Seager to the plate.

The Mariners' third baseman brought a four-game hitting streak into Wednesday night's contest and he extended that streak when he connected on a 3-2 pitch from Shields and deposited the ball into the right-field stands for his second home run of the season to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead.

"I threw him a fastball, 3-2," Shields said. "I was trying to go away. It kind of went down and in, it was pretty low, but he ended up getting it pretty good."

By the time Shields struck out Justin Smoak to end the inning, the normally economical Rays ace had used 38 pitches. But he would recover, using just 24 pitches in the second and third innings combined. After four innings, he had recorded 10 strikeouts and used 88 pitches.

"Man, after the first inning, I just wanted to go as deep as I could," Shields said. "I definitely didn't want to go three innings tonight. I was definitely on that pace after the first inning, but then I started getting outs."

Sean Rodriguez narrowed the deficit to one run with a two-run homer in the third off Mariners starter Blake Beavan. The Rays' offense then caught the first of two breaks on the evening when Luke Scott launched a popup that resembled a Roman candle to start the bottom of the fourth.

What would normally have been a routine popout turned into a single when the ball struck a wire running between the A and B catwalks at Tropicana Field. One out later, Will Rhymes singled to center. Jose Molina then doubled to score both runners and give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

Seager added his second home run of the game off Shields when he led off the sixth with a shot into the right-field stands to tie the score at 4. Once again, Shields managed to hang tough, using his 119th pitch of the game to finish the inning to remain the pitcher of record.

"I thought Shields had great stuff, not just good stuff, great stuff," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "... His stuff was way above average tonight."

Scott rewarded Shields' effort by leading off the Rays' half of the sixth with his sixth homer of the season, which wasn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill round-tripper. Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders seemed to have a bead on the ball when he leaped at the last instant to try and make the catch. The ball hit Saunders' glove and finished on the other side of the wall for a home run that put the Rays up 5-4.

Saunders said he didn't "really know exactly what happened."

"I know I got a piece of the ball, that's it," Saunders said. "I haven't looked at the replay. It was just one of those plays that all happened so fast. I hit the wall and came down without the ball. If [that situation] happened again, I would do the exact same thing and try to go for it."

Scott sounded surprised that there was even a play on the ball.

"I hit the ball really well actually," Scott said. "This park, I don't know what it is, center field kind of swallows up balls. The ball doesn't carry too well there. But I was able to get a little help and it was a big run."

A big run, indeed. Scott's blast turned out to be the winning run after Peralta's heroics to finish the game.

Peralta entered the game with one out in the eighth and runners on first and third. He then retired Alex Liddi on a popout to Molina at home plate. Smoak then worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a shot down the right-field line. Ben Zobrist sprinted toward the stands before hauling in the ball for the third out.

"It was a great play," Peralta said. "He covered a lot of ground there. He saved the game, too. It wasn't only me."

Peralta retired the Mariners in order in the ninth to record his first save of the season.

"The bullpen -- what can I say?" said Shields, who moved to 5-0 on the season. "Those guys were phenomenal tonight and they have been for the past week, so you have to tip your cap to the bullpen tonight."

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