ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Seattle Mariners are happy to be going home.
Zach Eflin tied for the American League lead with his 14h win, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Mariners 6-3 on Sunday to take three of four in a series between playoff contenders.
Tampa Bay has a 7 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the top AL wild card and 8 1/2-game advantage over Seattle, which is in the final wild card spot. The Rays started play four games behind Baltimore in the AL East, while Seattle trailed AL West-leading Houston by 1 1/2 games.
Seattle completed a 10-game trip that also included stops at the New York Mets and Cincinnati at 3-7.
"Not the way we wanted to end the road trip," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "It will be good to get home. It's been a long trip. Long flight tonight, but we'll get after it tomorrow. against the Angels.
"We'll be energized tomorrow," Servais added. "Us and about 40,000 of our dearest friends hopefully will be at the ballpark to get behind us. We need it. We're dragging a little bit."
Eflin (14-8) lasted five innings for the second consecutive start, allowing three runs and seven hits. At one point in the fourth and fifth, six of nine batters had hits off the right-hander.
Seattle went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position against Eflin, and 2 for 11 overall. Seattle was 5 for 30 during the series.
"Pretty spotty, honestly," Efiin said. "I think I made pitches when I needed to."
Eflin set a franchise record with his 11th home victory in a single season. He matched Toronto's Chris Bassitt and Baltimore's Kyle Gibson with his 14th win.
Four pitchers combined for scoreless, two-hit relief, with Pete Fairbanks working the ninth to for his 21st save in 23 chances. The Rays' bullpen has not allowed an earned run in its last 21 2/3 innings.
"Bullpen was absolutely lights out," Eflin said.
It took the Rays just 11 pitches to score three times in the first off Bryce Miller (8-5). Yandy Díaz had a leadoff single, Brandon Lowe walked, Harold Ramírez hit a two-run double and Josh Lowe had a run-scoring doulble.
"I think our pitchers are the best in the league, starters and bullpen," Josh Lowe said. "For us to give them an early lead and let them do the rest the rest of the game is huge."
Luke Raley made it 5-0 on a third-inning, two-run double.
Miller gave up five runs and nine hits over five innings.
"Bryce Miller today, big growth moment for him," Servais said. "I thought early in the game, certainly the first inning, they were on him. Then he did exactly what he needed to do, he flipped the script. He shut them down. He got the last nine hitters out and gave us a chance."
Seattle got run-scoring singles from Josh Rojas and Sam Haggerty in the fourth. Eugenio Suárez had a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.
Seattle had two-on and two-out in the third Cal Raleigh grounded out to first that Servais unsuccessfully argued with the umpires went off Raleigh’s foot and should have been a foul ball.
Mariners: Closer Andrés Muñoz has a minor hip issue but threw before the game.
"Am I concerned? No," Servais said.
Rays: 3B Isaac Paredes didn’t play one day after taking a pitch from Seattle RHP Luke Weaver off his right hand. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said Paredes, who has a team-best 29 homers, is "pretty sore."
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert (13-5) will look to join the group of AL 14-game winners Monday night against Los Angeles Angels LHP Reid Detmers (3-10). Gilbert is 8-0 with a 2.89 ERA since July 4.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (8-5) and Minnesota RHP Sonny Gray (7-6) are Monday night’s starters. Glasnow struck out 14 over six innings Wednesday in a win over Boston.