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Preview: Mariners at Rays

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Tampa Bay Rays are happy to be home after suffering through an 0-5 road trip in which they blew two late leads, scored one or fewer runs twice and dropped three games behind Boston in the American League East. The Rays look to right the ship when they begin a six-game homestand against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. Tampa Bay’s home run and RBI leader Evan Longoria continues to struggle through a prolonged slump, batting .176 since June 23 -- going 5-for-40 the last 10 games.

The Mariners, who have lost 10 of 15, could be just the tonic the Rays need in their first meeting this season. Seattle allowed 75 runs combined in 11 games before Felix Hernandez pitched eight solid innings in a 2-0 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday. Justin Smoak recorded four homers in the last eight games for the Mariners while team leader Raul Ibanez (24) has not gone deep in 20 games.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), SunSports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Erasmo Ramirez (3-0, 7.13 ERA) vs. Rays RH Chris Archer (6-4, 2.71)

Ramirez was fortunate in his first four starts of 2013, winning all three decisions while yielding 18 runs over 22 1/3 innings. The Nicaraguan right-hander pitched in relief last Friday after the Mariners scored 25 runs in his four starts. Yunel Escobar is 2-for-3 against Ramirez, who allowed one hit in two-thirds of an inning versus Tampa Bay last May.

Archer left his last start after 1 2/3 innings with stiffness in his right forearm, but is deemed fit to make his first career appearance against Seattle. The right-hander’s streak of five straight victories ended Aug. 2 when he gave up four runs in seven innings against San Francisco. Archer is 3-2 at home with a 2.37 ERA this season and has surrendered 55 hits in 76 1/3 innings overall.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Mariners beat the Rays in four of the last five meetings, but Tampa Bay took six of 10 overall in 2012.

2. Seattle RHP Danny Farquhar has gone nine straight outings without allowing a run, notching saves in his last four appearances.

3. Tampa Bay INF/OF Ben Zobrist has not committed an error in his last 65 games at second base.

PREDICTION: Rays 7, Mariners 2

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130813/preview-mariners-at-rays