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Notes: Crawford back in lineup

Notes: Crawford back in lineup

SEATTLE -- Carl Crawford was back in the lineup Saturday night after serving a two-game suspension.

The Rays left fielder was suspended for actions that led to his ejection by umpire Paul Nauert when the Rays played the Orioles Sept. 3.

Asked what he's been doing the past two nights, Crawford replied: "Chillin', watching the game from my [hotel] room."

Not being with the team during a game was a "weird" experience according to Crawford.

"It's weird, because you're not used to it," Crawford said. "So you just watch it from the TV like a regular fan. Have the same complaints they have."

Crawford needs one more stolen base to accomplish his fourth 50-steal season; he is trying to become the 23rd player since 1900 to have four 50-steal seasons. In addition, he needs 22 hits for his first 200-hit season.

"Between close plays and the scoreboard guy at home taking them away from me, I'd probably have them already," Crawford said. "Figure you want to do it at some point. I'm close this year. I don't know if I'll get to it, it would be nice. But if I don't, there's always next year."

Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked what the team has missed without having Crawford in the lineup.

"You miss his offense, you miss his speed, just his presence," Maddon said. "When you send the lineup card over to the other team and it's missing that name, it's a different game planning from their perspective right off the bat. He's been playing at a high level for the last two months. He means so much to our offense. ... You're taking out a pretty complete player. And then there's the base-stealing ability. So he's quite a force."

Shields lights out: James Shields did not get a decision Friday night despite allowing just one run over eight innings.

Such performances have come to be expected of "Big Game" James, who has not lost a game since Aug. 13 at Boston, a span covering six starts. During that stretch, Shields is 3-0 with a 2.44 ERA.

The Rays right-hander has pitched at least six innings and struck out at least five batters in his last nine starts. Over that stretch, he is 4-2 with a 2.39 ERA.

Entering Saturday, Shields ranks second in the American League in innings pitched with 215 -- Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia is first at 227.

Outfield help: Opposing runners have had difficulty running against Rays outfielders this season. Jonny Gomes recorded the Rays' Major League-leading 40th outfield assist Friday night -- and Major League-leading 14th double play from the outfield position. The club record for outfield assists is 47 in 1998.

More callups: After Saturday night's game, the Rays recalled left-handers Jeff Ridgway and J.P. Howell from Triple-A Durham. Howell went 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA in eight starts for the Rays this season. This will be Ridgway's first trip to the Major Leagues. The pair will join the Rays in Anaheim on Monday.

This and that: The Rays currently own the Major Leagues' second-biggest improvement in batting average from 2006 to 2007 by going from .255 to .269. The Mariners rank first having moved from .272 to .287. ... Jorge Cantu has the club record for most RBIs after the All-Star break with 61 in 2005, but Carlos Pena is hot on his heels with 59 this season. ... Since winning six straight at Safeco Field from Aug. 27, 2003, to June 3, 2005, the Rays have lost nine of their last 10 games in Seattle; their last win came on May 10, 2006. ... Jorge Velandia's game-tying RBI double in the eighth inning of Friday night's game gave him his first Major League RBI since Sept. 10, 2003, when he was a member of the Mets.

Playoff update: Triple-A Durham (International League) leads 2-1 in the best-of-five Governor's Cup Championship vs. Richmond (Braves). Friday night's game was rained out, forcing Saturday night's doubleheader.

Double-A Montgomery (Southern League) leads its best-of-five championship series against Huntsville (Brewers) 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday night in Huntsville.

Up next: The Rays will wrap up their four-game series -- and season series -- against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon in a 4:05 ET contest at Safeco Field. Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine will start for the Rays and will be opposed by left-hander Jarrod Washburn.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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