Kazmir fans 11 to pick up 13th victory
Bats score four runs in first inning as lefty climbs leaderboard
SEATTLE -- Milestones were everywhere for the Rays on Saturday night.
Scott Kazmir became the team's all-time winningest pitcher by claiming his 35th career win, Carl Crawford stole his 50th base in the second inning to give him 50 steals for the fourth time in his career and the Rays' victory snapped a four-game losing streak, allowing the team to claim its 62nd win of the season to surpass last year's total for the season.
But the biggest Rays milestone belonged to Mariners starter Horacio Ramirez, whose dubious distinction got the Rays on track toward a 6-2 win in front of a crowd of 33,793 at Safeco Field.
Ramirez wasn't able to retire any of the four batters he faced. In doing so, Ramirez's outing became the shortest stint against the Rays by an opposing starting pitcher -- due to ineffectiveness and not injury -- in Rays history.
Akinori Iwamura and Crawford greeted Ramirez with back-to-back singles to open the game. Carlos Pena then walked to load the bases before B.J. Upton singled home the Rays' first run. Mariners manager John McLaren had seen enough of Ramirez and signaled to his bullpen for right-hander Jorge Campillo.
Delmon Young then singled home two, and Jonny Gomes singled home another to put the Rays up, 4-0.
Young doubled to lead off the third, and Gomes doubled him home to make it 5-0 Rays. Brendan Harris added a solo home run to lead off the fifth to push the lead to 6-0; for Harris, the homer was his fourth in nine games after hitting eight in his previous 124.
Kazmir won his fourth consecutive decision to give him 13 for the season and tie Victor Zambrano for the career club mark. And he did so in brilliant fashion, allowing no earned runs in six innings worked, holding the Mariners to three hits while striking out 11 to pull within one strikeout of tying Erik Bedard for the American League lead. The Rays left-hander moved to 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in six career starts against Seattle.
"That might have been [Kazmir's] best fastball all year," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Tonight his fastball was exceptional. It was exploding right at the end. Wall to wall, I have not seen him throw that hard consistently. I was really impressed with his fastball and his strike-throwing."
The fastball "felt real good," Kazmir said. "It was coming off my hand nice. ... I felt live and whatnot, just loose. That's what I was throwing all my other pitches off of. Showing the fastball early and trying to get ahead with it. My other pitches felt like they were there, too."
Kazmir now has 220 strikeouts for the season in addition to 13 wins, but both of those take a backseat to another plateau he wants to reach.
"The 200-inning mark is something I really want to shoot for," said Kazmir, whose six innings Saturday night moved him to 195 2/3 for the season. "Get set up a little bit for next year, maybe surpass that and get a little bit more."
Crawford's steal came in the second inning. He became only the 23rd player since 1900 to have four 50-steal seasons, and only six players since 1900 have compiled four 50-steal seasons at age 26, including Rickey Henderson and Ty Cobb.
"That's a milestone I try to get to every year," Crawford said.
Crawford also returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension and he banged out four singles in his first four at-bats. He now has five four-hit games for the season and Saturday night marked the 17th time he has achieved the mark in his career.
"I mean, I was finding the hole today [during] my first four at-bats," Crawford said. "Just wanted to get back out there, I didn't think I'd have four hits today, but I'll take 'em."
And while 62 wins is hardly special, it did show improvement, particularly since the team surpassed last season's win total with 13 games remaining.
"It feels [like we're a better team]," Crawford said. "The last month or so, we've been playing that way. We'll have to wait until next year to see if we can continue to do what we're doing this year."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.