FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Matt Joyce had two of Tampa Bay’s three hits, including a solo homer and RBI triple, to help the surging Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 for their ninth victory in 10 games on Tuesday night.

Rookie Matt Moore (1-1) scattered seven hits over five innings to get the win, which kept the first-place Rays atop the AL East standings.

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Michael Saunders had a solo homer and Jesus Montero went 4-for-4 for Seattle, however the Mariners went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position to lose for the fourth straight time following a season-best four-game winning streak.

Joyce tripled off Mariners starter Hector Noesi (1-3), then scored on Luke Scott’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead in the first. Joyce’s team-leading sixth homer of the season made it 3-1 in the third.

Burke Badenhop and Joel Peralta combined for three scoreless innings out of Tampa Bay’s bullpen. Fernando Rodney struck out the side in the ninth to earn his eighth save in eight opportunities.

The Rays played without third baseman Evan Longoria, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a partially torn left hamstring. The three-time All-Star, hurt on Monday night while attempting to steal second base, is expected to be sidelined four to eight weeks.

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The good news for Tampa Bay was Moore finally got his first victory of the season. The hard-throwing 22-year-old left-hander, who started and won Tampa Bay’s postseason opener against Texas last October, walked one and struck out seven in the shortest of his five starts this year.

Saunders homered off Moore in the third. Seattle threatened in the fourth and fifth against the Rays starter, and again in the eighth when Montero doubled off Joel Peralta, but the Mariners failed to get a runner past second in each situation.

Noesi allowed three runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander, acquired along with Montero in an offseason trade that sent pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees, walked three and struck out one.

NOTES: The Mariners outhit the Rays 9-3. … Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki singled off Moore in the fifth inning to tie Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith on the career hit list with 2,460. … To fill Longoria’s spot on the roster, the Rays purchased the contract of INF Will Rhymes from Triple-A Durham. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Kyle Farnsworth was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. … Tampa Bay prospect Tim Beckham, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, was suspended 50 games after a second violation of the minor league drug program.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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