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Bullpen loses lead in eighth as Rays fall to M's

Snell's 12-strikeout performance not enough in series finale
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Blake Snell put on quite the performance for his friends and family watching his first Major League appearance in his hometown. But the Tampa Bay bullpen wasn't able to put the finishing touches on his masterful start. The Rays failed to close the door on Snell's homecoming, allowing two runs in the eighth in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

The Mariners broke through against left-hander Jose Alvarado, leaving Snell with a no-decision despite striking out a season-high 12 and allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings.

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SEATTLE -- Blake Snell put on quite the performance for his friends and family watching his first Major League appearance in his hometown. But the Tampa Bay bullpen wasn't able to put the finishing touches on his masterful start. The Rays failed to close the door on Snell's homecoming, allowing two runs in the eighth in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

The Mariners broke through against left-hander Jose Alvarado, leaving Snell with a no-decision despite striking out a season-high 12 and allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings.

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"It was good to throw in the hometown," Snell said. "It was cool. I was just happy to see all the support I got here. Just cool that most people came out to support. It's cool but it's tough when we lose."

Ryon Healy led off the decisive eighth with a four-pitch walk before being replaced by pinch-runner Andrew Romine. Guillermo Heredia followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Alvarado's throw went off the glove of first baseman Brad Miller, and Romine advanced to third.

Video: TB@SEA: Snell on outing, pitching in hometown Seattle

"I went and attacked the ball and had a pretty good play on it," Alvarado said. "I'm not sure what happened with [Miller], but I threw it trying to make the play as best as I can."

Denard Span, traded to Seattle from Tampa Bay on May 25, tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI single to right field. And after a Mike Zunino strikeout, Dee Gordon slapped a single just out of the reach of shortstop Daniel Robertson to score Heredia for the eventual winning run.

"He gives tough at-bats," Cash said of Span. "He might've given the toughest at-bats against Blake all day today. Nothing surprising. We saw him for two months with us and know he's just a professional hitter."

Edwin Diaz set the Rays down in order in the ninth for his MLB-leading 21st save this season, completing the series sweep and handing the Rays their fourth straight loss. The Mariners improved to 18-9 in games decided by one run this season.

Video: TB@SEA: Cron hit in the hand in 5th, later exits

Snell was nearly untouchable through the first three innings, striking out eight of the first nine batters and tying an AL record with seven consecutive K's to open the game. The left-hander matched Joe Cowley and Carlos Rodon, both of the White Sox, for the AL mark.

Miller drove in Tampa Bay's lone run of the game with a line-drive double to right-center field with two outs in the fourth, plating Robertson, who singled with two outs.

Video: TB@SEA: Miller lines an RBI double to right-center

The Rays loaded the bases against starter Felix Hernandez the following inning but failed to score. Hernandez lasted eight innings, allowing five hits while striking out seven.

"Going against Felix and seeing Felix be vintage Felix, that's upsetting for me because I want to get the win, just like the team," said Snell, who grew up idolizing Hernandez. "He pitched his butt off so got to give it to him."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Snell broke the Tampa Bay record for strikeouts to open a game and tied teammate Chris Archer and Andy Sonnanstine for most consecutive strikeouts at any point in the game. He fell one short of the MLB record for consecutive strikeouts to open a start, held by Jacob deGrom and Jim Deshaies.

Span put the first ball in play against Snell, working a 10 pitch at-bat and grounding out to second baseman Joey Wendle with one out in the third. Snell bounced right back to form by striking out Mike Zunino to end the inning.

Video: TB@SEA: Snell K's first 7 batters, tying AL record

Snell left the game after 100 pitches, finishing one strikeout short of his career high.

HE SAID IT
"He's pretty good. I talked to him the other day. He's really nasty, really good. I was trying to put zeros up there, too, to give this team a chance to win. With the offense we've got, it's pretty good." -- Hernandez, on Snell's performance

UP NEXT
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second start of the season in a series opener against the Nationals on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Eovaldi allowed no hits and struck out four over six innings in his first start, a 6-0 win against the Athletics on May 30. The Nationals will start their ace, Max Scherzer, looking for his 10th win.

Erik Erickson is a contributor to MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays