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05/04/10 9:29 PM ET

Garza goes for Rays against Mariners' Lee

It's no secret that the key to Cliff Lee's success is keeping hitters off-balance at the plate.

And if the Rays want to continue their winning ways on the road, they'll have to keep from getting all mixed up Wednesday in Seattle.

"He's really become one of the best pitchers in the game," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "You saw what he did last year in the playoffs. He's a guy that transcends National and American League boundaries. He's in that other league. He's really good."

Lee was stellar in his season debut on Friday, striking out eight and allowing only three hits in seven innings. He also felt no ill effects from the 98-pitch outing, his first Major League start since suffering an abdominal strain during Spring Training.

"He's able to locate his fastballs on both sides of the plate, whether it's two-seam or four-seam, and then he comes in with that cutter and changeup," said Mariners catcher Adam Moore. "He locates every pitch, stays down in the zone and he competes out there."

The Rays will be ready for the southpaw. They have no choice. Tampa will face another left-hander in Seattle on Thursday (Ryan Rowland-Smith) and two more in the next leg of their nine-game road trip in Oakland when they face Gio Gonzalez on Friday and Dallas Braden on Sunday.

Overall, the Rays have a 5-4 mark in the nine games when the opposing team started a left-hander compared to a 13-3 record against right-handed starters. The .257-percentage-point disparity is the fourth highest in the Major Leagues this season.

Tampa Bay will counter with Matt Garza, who went six innings and earned the win against Kansas City on Thursday. He allowed five hits and one earned run while striking out nine batters and walking just two.

"Anytime they give me runs early, it's a huge help, but I don't like going out there saying, 'I got six runs to work with,'" Garza said. "No, it's always attack and always stay attacking. This is the big leagues. Anytime, it could be a big inning. If you don't stay in control and stay aggressive, it could be a big inning. I learned that from the past because I've let teams get back in it, and I've taken myself out of the game."

In five career starts against the Mariners, Garza is a 1-1 in 17 2/3 innings. His 9.17 ERA against Seattle is the highest against any opponent other than the Cardinals.

Rays: Bartlett, Upton to return to lineup
Shortstop Jason Bartlett and center fielder B.J. Upton are expected to return after getting the night off on Tuesday. Upton did enter in the seventh inning as a pinch-runner and remained in center field. ... Reid Brignac raised his AL-rookie-leading RBI total to 12 with a run-scoring single in the fourth Tuesday. Tampa Bay is 11-1 when he starts.

Mariners: Key hitters riding streaks
The Mariners are streaking on offense. Franklin Gutierrez picked up 10th multi-hit game of the season Tuesday with three singles. ... Chone Figgins' single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to six games. ... Ichiro Suzuki picked up his 13th multi-hit game of the season Tuesday with two singles. He is hitting .375 during his past 17 games.

Worth noting
Evan Longoria is on a tear at the plate. The Rays' third baseman has hit home runs in back-to-back games and he's riding a 10-game hitting streak, where he is batting .487 during that stretch. He also has 12 multi-hit games this season, which ranks fifth in the AL.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.