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Rays, Mariners continue set at Safeco

Jun 4, 2011 - 2:41 PM (Sports Network) - With the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers, the perennial powerhouse Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the up and coming Oakland Athletics, not many people outside of the Emerald City thought the Seattle Mariners would place higher than fourth in the four-team American League West.

However, through May, that has not been the case. In fact, the Mariners are one of the hottest teams in the majors and continued to prove they can compete by being the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time in as many nights on Friday.

Justin Smoak had a solo shot and drove in two runs to back Jason Vargas' first career shutout, as the Mariners continued to use the long ball in a 7-0 win.

Adam Kennedy had a two-run homer and Miguel Olivo added another solo shot for the surging Mariners, who have seven home runs over the first two games of this four-game affair.

Seattle has won 13 of its last 16 tilts to pull a game and a half back of first place Texas in the AL West.

Vargas (4-3) allowed just four hits in the splendid start and struck out four.

Andy Sonnanstine (0-1) allowed all seven runs on four hits and five walks over five innings for the Rays, who have dropped three straight and 10 of their last 14.

The Mariners will look to keep the good times rolling today when they give the ball to Doug Fister this afternoon. Fister closed out the month of May with a victory over Baltimore. It was the right-hander's lone win in the month, as he went winless through his previous four games, after defeating Boston on April 30th.

Fister was shockingly dominant against the O's, as he recorded nine strike outs in 7 1/3 innings. During that time on the mound, Fister allowed three runs and scattered seven hits.

The 27-year-old has been able to hold his own at home this year, posting just a 2.97 earned run average. However, even with that impressive ERA, Fister is just 2-2 in six outings at Safeco Field.

This will be the third start for Fister against the Rays, and in his previous appearances against Tampa, he is just 1-1 with a mediocre 3.75 earned run average.

Fister and the Mariners will be up against a tough opposing pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson, who takes the mound looking to snap the Rays out of their recent funk.

Hellickson is only 24 years old, but is rapidly improving and that was demonstrated when the young hurler claimed the AL's Pitcher of the Month award. In five May starts, the right-hander was practically untouchable, as he posted a 1.36 earned run average to going along with his 4-1 ledger.

The last time Hellickson was in action the crafty twirler held the Indians scoreless through seven innings. He scattered just three hits, walked two batters and struck out six.

Usually younger pitchers are intimidated on the road, but that has not been the case for Hellickson, who is 4-1 in six road starts this season. The budding hurler will look for his fifth road win in his first-ever outing against Seattle.

  • TAMPA BAY: 3
    SEATTLE: 2

    Jun 4 6:48 PM

  • Pinch-Hitter Miguel Olivo two-out, two-run Home Run (6) to left scored Carlos Peguero. Ichiro Suzuki due up.

    Rays 3, Mariners 2  Bot 8, 2 OutsJun 4 6:33 PM
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    Rays 3, Mariners 2  Bot 8, 2 OutsJun 4 6:33 PM
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    Rays 3, Mariners 0  Top 3, 2 OutsJun 4 5:06 PM

  • Ben Zobrist singled to center scored John Jaso and Johnny Damon. Runner on first with two outs and Matt Joyce due up.

    Rays 3, Mariners 0  Top 2, 2 OutsJun 4 4:40 PM

  • Johnny Damon doubled to center scored Sam Fuld. On the play, John Jaso advances to third. Runners on second and third with two outs and Ben Zobrist due up.

    Rays 1, Mariners 0  Top 2, 2 OutsJun 4 4:38 PM

  • TAMPA BAY: 0
    SEATTLE: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Jun 4 4:10 PM
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    Rays vs. MarinersJun 4 7:00 AM