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Mariners hold off Rays 4-3 for 16th win in 20 games

Joey Wendle was caught stealing by Mariners catcher Mike Zunino to end the game. (AP)

By DICK SCANLON
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – The Seattle Mariners got another big start from Marco Gonzales and needed a big play from catcher Mike Zunino to keep up their winning stretch.

Photo gallery | Box score

Marco Gonzales won his fourth straight start and the surging Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Friday night for their 16th win in 20 games.

Zunino threw out Joey Wendle at second base on a stolen-base attempt for the final out of the Mariners’ 20th one-run victory of the season.

“We might as well make it close, right?” Zunino said. “It’s just sort of how we’re built.”

After cruising to a 4-1 lead behind Gonzales until the eighth inning, the Mariners had to hold on.

“We find a way to get it to one run,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I wish we had a little more ability to stretch, but it happens. We’ll take it.”

Gonzales (7-3) left the game after taking a throw at first base too late to retire a sliding Mallex Smith in the eighth.

“I was trying to avoid the helmet. I didn’t want to step on that that, snap my ankle,” he said. “I was just thankful I didn’t get hurt.”

The left-hander gave up two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings, the longest start of his career. Gonzales is 4-0 with a 0.81 earned run average over his last five starts.

Christian Arroyo had a solo homer in the fifth and C.J. Cron added a two-run shot in the eighth off former teammate Alex Colome to pull the Rays within a run.

However, Edwin Diaz got the final four outs for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities, finishing the Mariners’ 20th one-run win of the season and sending the Rays to their eighth straight loss.

“We know it will flip around,” Arroyo said. “We made a comeback tonight, made a comeback last night. We’re that one hit away.”

Singles by Guillermo Heredia and Daniel Vogelbach helped the Mariners take a 2-0 lead in the third inning off Rays starter Wilmer Font.

Mitch Haniger drove in one of the Mariners’ two runs off Rays reliever Matt Andriese with a single in the fifth, pushing Seattle’s lead to 4-0. It was Haniger’s 47th RBI of the season, tying a career high.

Arroyo’s first home run got the Rays on the board and Cron got them within one with his 14th.

Font (0-3) gave up two runs and two hits while striking out five in 2 1/3 innings in his first major league start. He became the 13th pitcher to start a game for the Rays this season.

An error on third baseman Kyle Seager – Seattle’s first error in 16 games – gave the Rays a scoring opportunity in the third, but Gonzales struck out Matt Duffy with the bases loaded to end it.

Mariners first-base coach Chris Prieto was ejected by home-plate umpire David Rackley in the middle of the ninth inning.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Juan Nicasio was placed on the 10-day disabled list with swelling in his right knee. … RHP Dan Altavilla was also placed on the 10-day DL and returned to Seattle to have doctors check the tightness in his right forearm. … RHP Nick Vincent (strained right groin) will pitch one inning in a rehab assignment this weekend.

Rays: RHP Chris Archer (left abdominal strain) is scheduled for a bullpen session Saturday and will face hitters Tuesday. … CF Kevin Kiermaier (torn ligament in his right thumb) is lined up to start a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday with Class A Charlotte. … SS Adeiny Hechavarria (right hamstring strain) could join Charlotte on Monday.

ADDED ATTRACTION

Fans watching batting practice got a treat when Ichiro Suzuki hit in the Mariners’ last batting practice group. The 44-year old special assistant to the chairman, who started the season as a player before the team moved him into the front office position, sent around a dozen balls into the right-field seats. Suzuki has 3,089 hits over 18 years in the majors.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (6-4) will make his 18th career start against Tampa Bay. He is 9-2 against the Rays including his perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012.

Rays: LHP Blake Snell (7-3) is coming off a start last Sunday in Seattle where he struck out 12 over six scoreless innings.

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