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Snell, Rays blank Mariners in Wild Card battle

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell hung nothing but zeros on the scoreboard, and the Rays got all the offense they needed from a pair of homers in a 3-0 win over the Mariners on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

Hoping to rekindle postseason hopes, the Rays (61-65) snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided getting swept by one of the teams they are competing against for the American League's second Wild Card spot, the Mariners (63-62), who saw their four-game winning streak end. Seattle fell to 1 1/2 games behind the Angels and Twins, who are tied for that slot.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell hung nothing but zeros on the scoreboard, and the Rays got all the offense they needed from a pair of homers in a 3-0 win over the Mariners on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

Hoping to rekindle postseason hopes, the Rays (61-65) snapped a four-game losing streak and avoided getting swept by one of the teams they are competing against for the American League's second Wild Card spot, the Mariners (63-62), who saw their four-game winning streak end. Seattle fell to 1 1/2 games behind the Angels and Twins, who are tied for that slot.

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Snell held the Mariners scoreless on two hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings en route to his second win of the season.

The Rays' struggling offense showed life on Sunday, with Kevin Kiermaier leading the parade with a home run to start the bottom of the first. Kiermaier's eighth home run off the season came on a 2-0 fastball from Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo and cleared the wall in center.

Video: SEA@TB: Gallardo snags a comebacker to end the 5th

"I just wanted to start the game off with a bang in any way you can," Kiermaier said. "For me, I was just trying to be ready from the first pitch. … I get to 2-0, and I said, 'Here comes a heater, I'm going to get one to hit.' And I was on time, put a barrel on it, backspin enough for it to go out and felt really good to hit a ball like that again. Been a while."

Adeiny Hechavarria, who hit a leadoff triple in the third and got stranded, hit his third homer of the year in the seventh on a 3-1 pitch from Gallardo, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead.

"In that situation, obviously we're not trying to get beat pull-side," Gallardo said. "And what happens? He hits a home run to right-center field. He stayed with it."

Video: SEA@TB: Hechavarria dives, spins for incredible play

Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless eighth for the Rays, effectively bridging the gap to closer Alex Colome, who got the final three outs to preserve the win while earning his 36th save of the season.

The final out of the game came on a dazzling play from Hechavarria, who went into the hole to backhand a smash by Nelson Cruz, then threw out the Mariners slugger at first.

"Well, it's nice to get a win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Got it started off right, K.K. with a big home run. Ended really well with Hechy's play. And also Hechy's two-run homer to give us a little breathing room. But obviously the story of the game was Blake Snell's performance."

Video: SEA@TB: Snell shuts down Mariners through seven

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A little help: Snell looked impressive from the beginning, and he got a little help along the way. After issuing a leadoff walk to Ben Gamel to start the third, Snell struck out Carlos Ruiz swinging, and Jesus Sucre threw out Gamel trying to steal second to complete the strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. More >

Video: SEA@TB: Rays turn strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out DP

Hechy Homers: Gallardo appeared to settle in after allowing the first-inning homer to Kiermaier. Entering the seventh inning, the right-hander had notched five consecutive scoreless frames. But he hit the leadoff batter, Sucre, and one out later, he fell behind, 3-1, to Hechavarria before delivering a 92.7 mph fastball. The Rays' shortstop swung and sent a projected 402-foot drive, according to Statcast™, into the right-field stands. Hechavarria's opposite-field barreled ball had a 103.7-mph exit velocity with a 25-degree launch angle, giving him three homers for the season, while giving the Rays a three-run cushion.

Video: SEA@TB: Hechavarria drills a two-run homer in the 7th

QUOTABLE
"We're to the point now where we just have to play good baseball and see what happens. ... The teams that are ahead of us have played good baseball to get in that spot. There's a bunch of teams that probably the industry had written them off. And they got hot and put themselves in a good situation. The thought is, it's time for us to go play good and get hot." -- Cash, on the Rays' postseason hopes

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kiermaier's leadoff homer was the team's eighth this season, tying the single-season franchise record (also 2006).

Gallardo allowed a leadoff home run for a third straight start. It was also the fourth time this season the opposition's first batter went deep off him. He trails only teammate Ariel Miranda (5) in the Majors for the most leadoff homers allowed.

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: The Mariners head to Atlanta for the first time since 2014, and they will send Andrew Albers (1-0, 1.80 ERA) to the mound to start the series opener on Monday at 4:35 p.m. PT at SunTrust Park. Albers was 12-3 with a 2.61 ERA pitching for the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett affiliate this year before Atlanta traded him for cash considerations.

Rays: Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84) gets the nod Tuesday night when the Rays welcome the Blue Jays to Tropicana Field to begin a three-game series. Archer will be making back-to-back starts against the Blue Jays after allowing three runs to them on Thursday in Toronto en route to a no-decision.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg who covered the Mariners on Sunday.