Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/3/12
Tune into Sun Sports at 12:30 p.m. to watch the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Seattle Mariners. While the Tampa Bay Rays continue to roll at home, the Seattle Mariners probably can't wait for their once-promising road trip to end. The AL East-leading Rays look to complete a four-game sweep of the struggling Mariners with a ninth consecutive home victory Thursday. Luke Scott hit his sixth home run and Sean Rodriguez added a two-run shot as Tampa Bay (17-8) overcame a 3-0 first-inning deficit to win for the fourth straight time, 5-4 over Seattle on Wednesday night. "We fought until the last out of the game. That's what our team is about, and what we've been doing all season," said Tampa Bay's James Shields, who became the majors' first five-game winner before St. Louis' Lance Lynn matched that feat later Wednesday night. The victory was the Rays' eighth straight and 11th in 12 games at Tropicana Field this season. They last won nine in a row at home June 24-July 10, 2009. Seattle (11-15), meanwhile, has dropped five in a row after opening its 10-game trip with four consecutive victories. "Obviously we've been very streaky as a club," manager Eric Wedge said. "But we are in every ball game, and we're right there where a situation, a play or an at bat here or there can be the difference in the ball game. That's where we have to get much better." Looking to avoid a seventh straight defeat at Tropicana Field, the Mariners face a stiff challenge against scheduled starter Jeff Niemann (1-3, 3.86 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA in six starts against them. He's allowed three runs and struck out 21 in 19 1-3 innings while winning his last three starts versus Seattle. The right-hander, however, has yet to make it out of the sixth inning in any of his starts in 2012. Niemann yielded three runs and five hits while walking three in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss at Texas on Saturday. "Things have been pretty close the first few games," Niemann told the Rays' official website. He's never faced Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager, who homered twice and drove in all four runs Wednesday. Seager is 8 for 19 (.421) in his last five games. Seattle's Kevin Millwood (0-2, 5.24) will try a fifth time for his first win when he takes the mound Thursday. After giving up 12 runs over 9 1-3 innings of his previous two outings, Millwood allowed three - one earned - in a season-high seven innings of a 7-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday. "I'm definitely not satisfied by any means but I definitely feel better about it," Millwood said. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 5.03 ERA in eight starts versus Tampa Bay. Scott was one of three Rays with two hits Wednesday, but he is 1 for 10 versus Millwood. It's uncertain if Millwood will face Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton, who left Wednesday's game after he experienced tightness in his right quadriceps. Upton, who missed the first 13 games with lower back soreness, is batting .333 (12 for 36) with a home run and eight RBIs. The Rays are already without star Evan Longoria, who is expected to miss four to eight weeks with a torn hamstring.
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