SEATTLE - David Price was nearly untouchable, giving up just a run, and he still walked off the field in the eighth inning in line for the loss.
Then came the ninth inning, and everything changed for the Tampa Bay Rays.
David DeJesus homered and Matt Joyce hit a go-ahead RBI single as the Rays rallied in the ninth inning against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney to beat the Mariners 2-1 on Tuesday night.
"We needed a win, period," Price said. "Whether it was a blowout or a game like that."
Tampa Bay had been reeling, coming in having lost five of six. Price (4-3) was also trying to turn things around, having lost his last two decisions. Before the game he watched highlights from his 2012 Cy Young-winning season and he changed up his uniform for the game, going with high socks for the first time since he played for Triple-A Durham in 2009.
"Figured I needed to switch it up a little bit, and I guess it worked," Price said.
Price kept the Mariners off balance most of the night, allowing one run and six hits in his second complete game this season. Eight of his 12 strikeouts came on called third strikes.
"David dominated it. Really, we don't win it without him pitching tonight," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "His focus was outstanding. The way he handled every moment — when there was a little trouble, he didn't lose his tempo or his rhythm.
"He just stayed there and made pitches when he needed to."
As good as Price was on the mound, Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma had been better, throwing eight scoreless innings. But Rodney didn't hold up his end of the pitchers' duel.
Rodney (1-2) had a 2-2 count on DeJesus when the designated hitter sent a fly ball down the right-field line, and all right fielder Stefen Romero could do was watch as the ball cleared the wall with a couple of rows to spare.
"I looked at the outfielder, he got to the wall, and I was like, 'Oh gosh, I've got a shot,'" DeJesus said.
With two outs, James Loney golfed a single up the middle and was replaced by pinch-runner Sean Rodriguez. Desmond Jennings' hard grounder to short hopped past Brad Miller, and then Joyce's fly to right-centre dropped in front of a diving James Jones to score Rodriguez.
"It's been a tough start for us, and hopefully this is something that will get us going," Joyce said. "This is definitely something we needed."
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jones led off with a double down the left-field line and later scored on Robinson Cano's groundout to first.
Iwakuma, making his third start after opening the season on the disabled list with a finger injury, gave up a double to DeJesus in the first, then retired 13 in a row before the Rays picked up a pair of singles in the fifth. Tampa Bay's only other hit off Iwakuma was Joyce's single to lead off the eighth, but Iwakuma finished off that inning — and his night — with a called strikeout of Wil Myers with the runner stranded on first.
It was the second straight eight-inning shutout outing for Iwakuma, who has now thrown 24 straight scoreless innings at home dating to last season. He didn't get the chance to try for his first career complete game, though, as Rodney came on and ended up with his second blown save.
"Kuma was out of gas," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I've got one of the best closers in the game. This guy's going to save a lot of games for us, it just didn't go his way tonight."
NOTES: Before the game, Maddon said he was encouraging his players to use old-school cologne for the game in an effort to shake the team out of its slump. "Aroma matters," he said. Maddon added that he hoped the smells would conjure up warm memories of the players' fathers. "I'm hoping for this really awful odour in the dugout with all these scents tonight. That would be outstanding." ... Maddon also used the more traditional method of mixing up the lineup. Myers (leadoff), DeJesus (No. 2) and 2B Ben Zobrist (No. 4) were in those spots for the first time this season. ... Rodney has allowed a baserunner in 10 of his 13 save opportunities.