SEATTLE (AP) -Joe Maddon poured a glass of red wine after another cold victory for his rampaging Rays.
``Spanish,' the chic manager said. ``Just got it. It's a good one.'
So is his team.
Matt Garza became the American League's first five-game winner, Evan Longoria had the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning off Cliff Lee and Tampa Bay kept rolling with an 8-3 victory Wednesday night over a Seattle Mariners team beset by issues.
Garza allowed five hits and two runs in eight innings and Ben Zobrist preserved a tie defensively before sparking the decisive rally for the Rays, who are 11-1 on the road. That's the major league's best start away from home since the 2003 Yankees also started 11-1.
At 20-7, Tampa Bay extended the best AL start since the 2005 Chicago White Sox.
Garza (5-1) reached five victories faster than any pitcher in Tampa Bay history - eight games sooner than Andy Sonnanstine won his fifth in the Rays' World Series season of 2008. Garza's sparkling ERA actually ticked up to 2.09.
Garza, who is of Mexican descent, improved to 2-0 in his career on Cinco de Mayo.
To hear him tell it, he could have perhaps used a bit of el vino from Maddon before facing Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner.
``See with me, I can't become jazzed. I need to be more down,' he said. ``I've faced Halladay. I faced Sabathia ... You've just got to go toe-to-toe with him and try to last as long as he does.'
Asked if he, too, may someday be mentioned in the company of Halladay, Sabathia and Lee, Garza shrugged his shoulders.
``Well, I hope so,' he said.
Seattle got a rare, two-run home run from Franklin Gutierrez that created a brief 2-0 lead in the fourth. It was the Mariners' first homer in 77 innings and AL-low 10th this season.
Beyond that: little else - except more bad news.
Cleanup hitter Milton Bradley is out indefinitely after asking the Mariners for help with an emotional issue. Three more players are injured. And they lost their fifth consecutive game at home before a chilled and grumpy 14,627, the second-smallest crowd in the 10-year history of Safeco Field.
It's the Mariners' longest skid in Seattle since they lost seven straight into August 2008 - their 101-loss season.
``It's the same story. We come out, Guti gives us a two-run home run puts us up by two, then Cliff comes out gives up two - then the offense goes back into its shell,' Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of a lineup that has eight runs in five games. ``We've put so much pressure on the pitchers.'
Lee (0-1) dazzled in his delayed Seattle debut Friday, blanking Texas on three hits over eight innings. But he allowed 10 hits and five runs - four earned - in eight innings this time. Fastballs that struck out three Rays early turned into ringing hits later.
After Zobrist kept the game tied and ended the seventh by cutting off a grounder into short right field by Josh Wilson that was about to be an RBI single, the No. 3 hitter put down an exquisite bunt in front of third base in the eighth. The single moved Carl Crawford to second.
``Kind of caught them off guard,' Maddon said. ``Caught me off guard. He did that totally on his own.'
Longoria then lined a third consecutive single off Lee, to left field. Crawford sped home to put Tampa Bay ahead for the first time 3-2.
Pena lined out but shortstop Wilson, subbing because Jack Wilson left with right knee tightness after three innings, overthrew the bag trying to double Longoria off first base. The error scored Zobrist. B.J. Upton's RBI single then scored Longoria, and suddenly the Rays had 10 hits and a 5-2 lead on Lee.
They added three more in the ninth off Sean White.
The knee tendon pain for Jack Wilson, Seattle's slick-fielding shortstop, came after he ran to first on a bunt single on a cold night of temperatures dipping into the mid-40s.
Catcher Rob Johnson took a foul ball off his right throwing hand late in the game. He will get X-rays, but the Mariners don't think it is broken.
And before the game, Seattle also placed primary setup man Mark Lowe on the 15-day disabled list. He has inflammation in his lower back and received an epidural injection Wednesday.
NOTE: Garza has thrown eight innings in four of six starts. That's tied for most in the majors with Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright. ... Seattle DH Ken Griffey Jr. doubled immediately after Gutierrez's home run. It was the 40-year-old's second extra-base hit in 64 at_bats this season. It also tied him with Rafael Palmeiro for sixth all-time with 1,192 extra-base hits.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved