Mariners lose for eighth time in nine games

SEATTLE (AP) -- Lou Piniella's birthday haul included a bottle of
wine, several cards from well-wishers and a dramatic victory over
his former team.

Toby Hall homered in the ninth inning, lifting the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays to a 3-2 victory over the slumping Seattle Mariners on
Thursday, which also was Piniella's 60th birthday.

"What a clutch home run," Piniella said, smiling broadly.

The Mariners fell two games behind Oakland in the AL West after
leading the division for 4{ months. They lost for the eighth time
in nine games, leaving them a half-game behind Boston in the
wild-card chase.

"We're a very good team. We just haven't shown it on the field
in the last few weeks," outfielder Mike Cameron said.

Seattle's Bret Boone tied it at 2 with a solo shot in the
eighth, but Hall drove a 1-1 pitch from Shigetoshi Hasegawa (1-1)
into the Devil Rays' bullpen in left field with two outs.

"My first three times up, I was lunging," Hall said. "I just
tried to keep it simple. I was trying to hit the ball hard. You
can't be intimidated by who's out there. You just try to see it and
hit it."

It was only the fifth time Hasegawa has allowed a run in 53
appearances this season. He came in with a 0.75 ERA.

"I've made mistakes during the season all the time," Hasegawa
said. "Today, I thought it was only one pitch, and he hit that

Piniella, the former Mariners manager, greeted a stream of
birthday well-wishers before the game, many bringing gifts such as
the wine bottle on his desk. He was in a good mood afterward, too.

"Hasegawa's been almost unhittable," Piniella said.
"Three-quarters of a run for an ERA. Then he gets two quick outs
and Toby connects one."

Al Martin also homered and Jorge Sosa gave up one run in six
innings for the Devil Rays, who took two of three from Seattle --
only the third series Tampa Bay has ever won against the Mariners.

"We beat a contending team, but we're trying to beat
everybody," Hall said. "We're not trying to pick and choose.
We're trying to win every game."

Lance Carter pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 28

Martin's solo homer gave the Devil Rays a 2-0 lead in the
fourth. Boone tied it, driving the first pitch he saw from reliever
Travis Harper (3-7) over the wall near the left-field foul pole.

"Boone is a clutch hitter," Hall said. "We made a mistake and
he capitalized on it, but we've been sticking together as a team.
The old Devil Rays would have tucked their tails and given up
another run."

Freddy Garcia pitched well for 6 2-3 innings, holding Tampa Bay
to four hits and one earned run. He struck out four, including
three in the second, and walked two before turning it over to lefty
Arthur Rhodes in the seventh.

A 10-mph wind was blowing from the northwest, unfurling the
flags above left field. For the first time in four months, the
green and yellow "Athletics" banner was displayed on the first
pole among the AL West teams.

"They were eight games back of us, so things can happen
quickly," Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. "We need to find a way
to turn it around."

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the third, capitalizing on a rare
error by second baseman Boone to score an unearned run.

Boone dropped a fly by Hall, who went to second on Damian Rolls'
single to left. Carl Crawford walked, and Julio Lugo hit a
sacrifice fly.

"We had a good opportunity to win today, but we made some
mistakes," Boone said.

Martin made it 2-0 in the fourth when he launched a 2-0 pitch
deep into the stands in right field.

"We scored three runs and the staff made it hold up," Piniella
said. "That's big for us."

The Mariners couldn't score until the sixth. John Olerud hit a
two-out RBI single to left to score Boone, and Seattle had the
bases loaded after Cameron walked.

Sosa ended the threat, though, by getting Randy Winn on a short
chopper that was corralled by Hall, the catcher. Sosa allowed five
hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Game notes
Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4, extending his hitless streak to
nine at-bats. He went 1-for-12 in the series. ... Since joining the
AL in 1998, the Devil Rays have won 13 series against first-place
teams. This was the fourth time they've knocked a front-running
club from its perch. ... Olerud was 3-for-4 and has 11 hits in his
last six games.