SEATTLE -- Errors, passed balls and wild pitches abounded as the Rays beat the Mariners in a sloppy, 11-3 affair Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field in front of 30,336. And as the game's outcome was sealed by the fifth inning, it was a managerial decision after one of those ragged plays that drew the most attention in the Seattle camp following the end of its 10-game homestand. Jim Riggleman chose to remove second baseman Jose Lopez from the lineup in the bottom of the fourth inning for Tug Hulett -- who had just come up from Triple-A Tacoma. In the top of the fourth, Lopez missed a throw from catcher Jeff Clement on an attempted Tampa Bay steal at second. Lopez was charged with an error, as Akinori Iwamura reached third base thanks to the miscue and scored on B.J. Upton's single.
On Saturday night, Lopez made an error by trying to flip the ball out of his glove to Yuniesky Betancourt at second base and also had multiple makable plays hit near him that turned into infield hits. "Well, I don't even think I really want to address that right now. I appreciate the question because obviously you take a regular out of your ballgame in the middle of a game, it's going to raise questions," Riggleman said, adding that he didn't think the removal would extend beyond Sunday's game. "I haven't talked to Jose yet, so after I talk to him, I'll find the right words to explain it to you guys. But I want to get those words out to him first." Lopez did talk to the media, saying he didn't know the reason for the move and didn't ask when he came out. "I can't say nothing right now," he said. "I don't know about why, I can't say nothing right now." But the Lopez incident was just part of a tough loss for Seattle. After taking two out of three from Minnesota at the beginning of the week and the first game from the Rays, the AL East division leaders stormed back to take the last three as they continue their push for the playoffs. "It was just a bad ballgame; we didn't play good. I don't know how else I can say it, other than just it's not in line with the way we've played lately," Riggleman said. "We've played very competitive -- we're getting beat, but we're as all clubs do when you lose, you feel like you should have won ball games. ... We've had so many we felt like we should have won. Today we didn't look like we even belonged on the same field." Things started ugly on the very first batter, when Clement stumbled around by the plate and dropped Iwamura's popup just a few feet into fair territory. Seattle starter R.A. Dickey got out of the first unscathed but gave up three-run homers in the second and fifth innings to Willy Aybar and Shawn Riggans -- the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the Tampa Bay lineup. "On both those pitches, they just got the barrel to it. It's not like they blasted them out," Dickey said. "Outside of those two balls, I felt like I threw a pretty good game." Lopez homered in his only at-bat in the second inning off Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson to cut the lead to 3-1, but the Rays put up single runs in the third and fourth innings before Riggans' shot in the fifth made it 8-1. Jackson gave up just one run in seven innings, and Riggleman said it concerns him that the Mariners continue to struggle against hard-throwing right-handers with good sliders. Dickey had a good knuckleball, but it didn't end up helping his final results. It did, on the other hand, contribute to a club-record-tying three passed balls by Clement, who had a tough day in the field and at the plate -- 0-for-4, strikeout and double-play grounder. Amid the struggles were two hits from Ichiro Suzuki, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games. The afternoon also featured two entertaining moments. In the sixth, Rays first baseman Carlos Pena hit a deep ball to right-center that hit exactly on the front edge of the top part of the wall, bounced up, bounced a couple times on the top of the wall and then came back into play for a triple. Dickey also watched a spinning dribbler off the bat of Eric Hinske in the fifth go well foul down the third-base line before spinning back fair and then moving back toward the line where it stopped just barely in fair territory. Dickey got down on his knees and attempted to blow it foul. "I might have seen it on a blooper reel or something one time," he said. "But the ball started about 16 inches foul. I've never seen a ball spin like that. ... That's hit right at somebody, I'm out of the inning. It was a tough day, tough day all around."
Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.