Dae-Ho Lee’s three-run homer and clutch relief pitching lifts Mariners to 6-4 win over Rays, and 20th victory.

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Given the number of late-inning, one-run leads it has been asked to protect this season, two runs must have felt like 20 for a Mariners bullpen that has pitched with the slimmest of margins much of the season. Still, even that extra run doesn’t make getting the final nine outs of a game significantly easier.

But as it has done all season, Seattle’s bullpen delivered yet another lockdown performance Tuesday night.

Relievers Nick Vincent, Vidal Nuno, Joel Peralta and closer Steve Cishek combined to work three scoreless innings to close out a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and a series win.


Tampa Bay @ Mariners, 12:40 p.m., ROOT Sports

“Our bullpen was outstanding tonight,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Asked to work a little extra coming in with two outs in the eighth inning, Cishek got the final four outs for his 11th save while the Mariners improved to 20-13.

“A couple of days ago, I talked to Cishek about the possibility of a four- and five-out save,” Servais said. “He’s done it before. He’s comfortable doing it. You could kind of see it might get to that at some point. Awesome, awesome job.”

Cishek has pitched multiple innings twice this season so he has the stamina. Part of his routine is to stand the entire time in the dugout when his team is hitting.

“I like to treat it like I’m in the bullpen,” he said.

The routine worked. His outing started after Peralta battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Evan Longoria swinging with a runner on first.

“He knows me pretty well,” Peralta said. “He knows the way I pitch. So when I got a 3-0 count I’m thinking he’s swinging for sure, so I went with a breaking pitch for a strike. After he took it, I knew he was hunting my split. I knew (Chris) Iannetta was going to call fastball, and I just threw it where I wanted to throw it. I was a little more lucky than good.”

Servais called on Cishek to face Steve Pearce, who had homered twice in the game. Cishek walked Pearce but came back to get Steven Souza Jr. to fly out to right field as Nelson Cruz made a nice sliding grab.

In the ninth, Cishek gave up a leadoff single to Hank Conger, but came back to strike out Logan Morrison, Kevin Kiermaier and Corey Dickerson.

The Mariners jumped on Rays starter Drew Smyly in the first inning, with the first four batters getting hits.

Ketel Marte, who was in the leadoff spot with Norichika Aoki given a night off, continued to swing an ultra-hot bat, singling to left.

Franklin Gutierrez, who came into the game hitting just .205 with three RBI, hit his first home run of the season, sending a line-drive, two-run shot into the right-field seats.

“It was great to see him bust out tonight,” Servais said.

Robinson Cano then singled to left and Nelson Cruz doubled.

Seattle scratched out another run on a sacrifice fly to deep right from Kyle Seager and appeared to have another when plate umpire Jerry Layne called a balk on Smyly with Cruz at third base.

Smyly was pitching from the windup and paused when catcher Curt Casali asked for time out with Dae-Ho Lee at the plate. Layne appeared to call a balk first and then grant time to Casali.

An incensed Smyly and Rays manager Kevin Cash convinced the umpires to confer on the call. The four umps met and overturned the original call, sending Cruz back to third base. Lee later struck out, so the Mariners had to settle for a 3-0 lead.

Tampa, led by Pearce, rallied to make the game close. Pearce hit a solo homer off Mariners starter Wade Miley in the second inning and another in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 3-2.

After singles from Iannetta and Seager to start the fourth inning, Lee belted his fifth homer of the season — a line drive over the wall in right for a 6-2 lead. It was an impressive at-bat by Lee.

He fell behind 1-2 but came back to foul off two pitches before getting a cutter out over the plate.

“I felt so happy to hit a homer so we could go ahead,” Lee said through his interpreter.

20-win club
Only six major-league teams have 20 wins this season:
Team Record
Chicago Cubs 25-6
Chicago White Sox 23-10
N.Y. Mets 20-11
Mariners 20-13
Washington 20-13
Boston 20-13