Rays defeat Mariners in Cobb's return
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Cobb was mentally and physically tired, and he had admittedly made enough poor pitches to fall into a lot of trouble. He'd worked through worse the last two months. So he bore down and made his comeback story a whole lot more compelling on Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Cobb made a successful return from the disabled list exactly two months after being struck in the head with a line drive, and Wil Myers knocked in four runs as the Tampa Bay Rays downed the Seattle Mariners 7-1.
Cobb, who suffered a concussion after being struck behind the ear by a liner hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer on June 15, was mostly sharp in allowing just one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out six, fanning Nick Franklin on a 3-2 changeup to escape bases-loaded peril in his final inning with the score tied 1-1. Rays manager Joe Maddon said Franklin would have been Cobb's last batter had he reached, meaning Cobb saved his decision as the Rays scored four times in the bottom of the inning for a decisive lead.
"I still came out of the game knowing that there are things I needed to improve on, that I wasn't happy with," Cobb (7-2) said. "But you kind of have to put that thought process aside a little bit and take a step back and realize what you did go through and appreciate what you've been able to accomplish the last two months.
"Tonight, I'll take that thought process home."
Maddon said he wasn't concerned about Cobb physically or psychologically but was unsure of what he would see emotionally.
He was impressed.
"Having been out for a bit, I didn't know how settled he would be," he said.
Three Rays relievers limited Seattle to two hits over four scoreless innings as Tampa Bay took two of the three games in the series.
In winning their second in a row and their 16th home game in their past 20, the Rays (68-51) pulled within two games of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Tampa Bay leads the American League wild-card race.
Seattle (55-65) lost for the sixth time in nine games.
Myers finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, and Evan Longoria went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer. Sean Rodriguez and Yunel Escobar added two hits apiece for the Rays.
Tampa Bay took a 5-1 lead off Seattle starter Joe Saunders (10-12) with a four-run fifth inning powered by Longoria's 23rd homer of the season and a double by Myers.
Sam Fuld led off with a single and took second when a Rodriguez pop to center fell between shortstop Brad Miller and second baseman Franklin.
"Nick's got to go after that ball," acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson said. "If Brad does call it, he better be sure that he catches it, but that ball's got to be caught."
Myers knocked in his third run of the game with a two-run double to left, and Longoria mashed the next pitch into the left-field stands for a 5-1 advantage.
"It was one of those turning points in the game where a half inning before we had the bases loaded (and) they struck a guy out," Saunders said. "(It) gave them momentum and we give it right back to them. It was just hard to recover from that."
Saunders was charged with five runs on seven hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Raul Ibanez launched his 25th homer of the season into the right field bleachers.
Tampa Bay tied the game at 1 in the third. Fuld, on second after reaching on a fielder's choice and advancing on a bloop single by Rodriguez, scored on Myers' base hit to left.
The Rays added a run in the seventh on an RBI single by Escobar and another in the eighth on a Myers single.
NOTES: Cobb was the first Rays starter to earn a win this month. ... Seattle has dropped 12 of its last 17 against the Rays. ... The Rays hit .364 (8-for-22) with runners in scoring position in winning the final two games of the series. ...
Tampa Bay designated INF Ryan Roberts for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for Cobb. Roberts, 32, was batting .229. ... On Aug. 15, 2012, Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd and most-recent perfect game in major league history against the Rays. ... Ibanez hit his first homer in 20 games and 83 at-bats since the All-Star break. ... Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson asserted that RHP Danny Farquhar would remain his closer despite blowing his first save Wednesday after five successful conversions. Farquhar was unavailable Thursday because of his recent workload.