SEATTLE — Matt Garza became the American League's first five-game winner, Evan Longoria had the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning off Cliff Lee and the Tampa Bay Rays kept rolling with an 8-3 victory Wednesday night over a Seattle Mariners team beset by issues.
Garza allowed five hits in eight innings before Grant Balfour allowed a run in the ninth, and Ben Zobrist preserved a tie defensively before sparking the decisive rally for the Rays, who are 11-1 on the road. That's the major league's best start away from home since the 2003 Yankees also started 11-1.
At 20-7, Tampa Bay extended the best AL start since the 2005 Chicago White Sox.
Garza (5-1) reached five victories faster than any pitcher in Tampa Bay history — eight games sooner than Andy Sonnanstine won his fifth in the Rays' World Series season of 2008. Garza's sparkling ERA actually ticked up to 2.09.
Seattle got a rare, two-run home run from Franklin Gutierrez but little else — except bad news.
Cleanup hitter Milton Bradley is out indefinitely after asking the Mariners for help with an emotional issue. Two more players are injured. And they lost their fifth consecutive game at home before a chilled and grumpy 14,627, the second-smallest crowd in the 10-year history of Safeco Field.
It's the Mariners' longest skid in Seattle since they lost seven straight into August 2008 — the 101-loss season.
Lee (0-1) dazzled in his delayed Seattle debut Friday by blanking Texas on three hits over eight innings. But the 2008 AL Cy Young award winner allowed 10 hits and five runs — four earned — in eight innings this time. Fastballs that struck three Rays out early turned into ringing hits later.
Zobrist kept the game tied with the defensive play of the night. The second baseman ran far to his left to cut off a grounder into short right field by Josh Wilson that was about to be an RBI single. Zobrist spun and first baseman Carlos Pena dug out his short-hop throw to end the seventh inning.
Then Zobrist put down an exquisite bunt in front of third base in the eighth for a single to move Carl Crawford to second. Longoria then lined a third consecutive single off Lee, to left field. Crawford sped home to put Tampa Bay ahead for the first time 3-2.
Pena lined out but shortstop Wilson, subbing because Jack Wilson left with tightness in his right hamstring after three innings, overthrew the bag trying to double Longoria off first base. The error scored Zobrist. B.J. Upton's RBI single then scored Longoria, and suddenly the Rays had 10 hits and a 5-2 lead on Lee.
They added three more in the ninth off Sean White.
The last time Lee had allowed 10 hits and five runs was Sept. 9 against Washington for Philadelphia.
About all the Mariners got was Gutierrez's third home run of the season that gave Seattle a brief 2-0 lead in the fourth. It was the Mariners' first homer in 77 innings and AL-low 10th this season.
Tampa Bay immediately tied it. Dioner Navarro doubled and No. 9 hitter Gabe Kapler singled him home on consecutive pitches in the fifth. Then Jason Bartlett lined a double into the left-field corner to score Kapler.
The hamstring tightness for Jack Wilson, a slick-fielding shortstop, came after he ran the bases on a cold night of temperatures dipping into the mid-40s.
In yet another problem, Seattle also placed primary setup man Mark Lowe on the 15-day disabled list before the game. He has inflammation in his lower back and received an epidural injection Wednesday.
NOTES: Seattle DH Ken Griffey Jr. doubled immediately after Gutierrez's home run. It was the 40-year-old's second extra-base hit in 64 at-bats this season. It also tied him with Rafael Palmeiro for sixth all-time with 1,192 extra-base hits. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said C John Jaso will make his 10th start of the season in Thursday's series finale, to give Navarro a rest.