St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer and B.J. Upton added two hits, including a solo shot, and two RBI as Tampa Bay rode a four-run first inning to down Seattle, 9-1, in the middle test of a three-game set from Tropicana Field.
Carl Crawford posted three hits and knocked in a run for the Rays, who have won four in a row, including the first two in this series, to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. New York fell to Boston earlier Saturday.
Ben Zobrist, Dan Johnson and Reid Brignac also drove in a run each for Tampa, which shrunk its magic number to clinch a playoff berth to two.
Matt Garza (15-9) worked seven frames for the win, scattering eight hits and one run while striking out five.
"We came out really upbeat for the game. We had a lot of energy about the whole group," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We know what we're after. It's fun to watch."
Franklin Gutierrez finished 2-for-4 and drove in the lone run for the Mariners, who have dropped three in a row and eight of their last 11.
Doug Fister (6-13) was charged in defeat for five hits and four runs with four strikeouts over six innings.
The Rays jumped on top to stay in their first at-bat.
John Jaso started the surge with a double, then Zobrist doubled him in. Crawford then singled and Johnson's sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Joyce followed with a two-run shot to right.
"The first four of five guys came out swinging, and it was suddenly a little too late [to recover]," recalled Fister.
Garza worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the Seattle first, then held the M's at bay until the fifth, when a double and fly out put a runner on third with two down. However, the home hurler induced an inning-ending groundout from Ichiro Suzuki.
Chone Figgins led off the sixth with a double, stole third and scored when Johnson mishandled a bouncing Gutierrez grounder that was eventually ruled a single.
A leadoff single in the Seattle seventh turned into a line drive double play from Greg Halman, then Garza exited after getting Josh Wilson on a fly out to right.
Upton pushed the Rays' edge to 5-1 with a leadoff long ball in the home half. Jaso then doubled with one out and came in on a two-out single from Crawford.
In the eighth, Brad Hawpe hit a run-scoring single, Upton followed with an RBI triple and Brignac added a successful single to make it 9-1.
Dan Wheeler recorded the final five outs to lock down the victory.
Garza hadn't won since September 3, losing twice with a no-decision since then...Jaso finished with two doubles and scored twice...Mariners left-fielder Mike Carp left the game in the top of the fifth after suffering an apparent leg injury while running to second base.