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Rays get three hits, three runs in win over Mariners

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 04:51 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The Tampa Bay Rays got three hits Tuesday night. They scored three runs. They won again.

The Rays scored two in the first inning and another in the third to defeat the Seattle Mariners, 3-1, in front of 9,972 fans at Tropicana Field.

Kind of a neat little way to tell old No. 3, Evan Longoria, who is also the No. 3 hitter, that they have his back while he recovers from the partially torn left hamstring that sent him to the disabled list earlier in the day.

"Longo's left very big shoes to fill, and I think the guys realize we have to pick it up," right fielder Matt Joyce said. "It's part of the game. Injuries are part of the game. Guys go through slumps. Guys have to pick each other up. That's what good teams do."

Joyce replaced Longoria in the third spot in the batting order. He tripled his first time up.

Joyce also homered in his second at-bat and drove in two of the Rays runs, which was enough for them to win for the ninth time in 10 games.

"I think Matt does that every year about this time," manager Joe Maddon said. "We did that last year, put him in the 3 hole and he responded well. It was a really nice day for him."

Joyce helped Matt Moore win for the first time this season.

The rookie left-hander pitched five innings and allowed seven hits and a run. He also struck out seven and walked one and evened his record at 1-1.

"I didn't think of myself necessarily as an 0-and-1 guy," Moore said. "I was kind of like a 1-and-3 guy, because that's what we were on the days that I took the mound, so for me, being 2-3 is so much better than being 1-1."

Moore has been a slow starter during his career, going 2-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 April starts during his four full professional seasons. He is a combined 25-14 during the rest of the seasons.

"So this is not anything new," Maddon said.

Maddon is quick to remind everyone that Moore is only 22 years old and that he is still very new to pitching in the big leagues despite his success at the end of 2011.

"He hasn't been around that long," Maddon said.

After the game, Moore, the last of the Rays' starting pitchers to earn a victory this season, talked more about his struggles than earning his first victory of the season.

"I think if I could have done one thing better it would have been to attack earlier," Moore said. "I felt there were some counts where maybe they could anticipate what was coming. With me, it's always what I do early in the count. If I'm ahead or have to fight my way back into the count, it's going to be either a long day or a short day. It was a shorter day for me.

"Five innings is not the way any of us want to go, but having said that, there were some situations were there were pitches made where there was growth there, some curve balls that were nice. I think it's still just a matter of me trusting the ball over the plate a little more, maybe. I feel like we're on the way up, that's for sure."

Burke Badenhop followed Moore to the mound. He allowed a leadoff single and nothing else in two innings. Joel Peralta pitched the eighth and Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth to earn his eighth save in as many chances.

"The bullpen was spectacular," Maddon said. "Badenhop did what he was supposed to, got it to Joel, got it to Fernando and Fernando was very sharp."

The pitching from Moore to Rodney didn't have much to work with, but Joyce gave them enough.

His triple, which hit the top of the center-field wall, scored Ben Zobrist, who had doubled. A sacrifice fly by Luke Scott scored Joyce, and the Rays led 2-0 after an inning.

Joyce answered a third-inning home run by Michael Saunders with one of his own in the bottom of the inning to cap all the scoring for the night.

It was the sixth homer of the year for Joyce, the fifth in his last 12 games.

Maddon said Joyce will be the No. 3 hitter against right-handed pitchers in Longoria's absence, something Joyce was glad to hear when the news was relayed to him after the game.

"Absolutely, I feel very comfortable hitting in the middle of the order, wherever it might be. I'm pretty much up for anything," Joyce said. "They try to put you in the best situation possible and, obviously they want to win games. I'm open to anything."

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