Pittsburgh lit up Seattle lefty Joe Saunders for three home runs in a game-deciding, five-run second inning and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the Mariners Tuesday night at Safeco Field. The Pirates, who took command with Brandon Inge’s three-run shot off Saunders, snapped Seattle’s (34-43) two-game winning streak.
Saunders did not do the Mariners any favors with his terrible outing. He’s one of the club’s best trade-deadline chips, along with outfielder Michael Morse.
Pittsburgh went up 1-0 in the first after Starling Marte tripled and scored on a Jordy Mercer ground ball. After Russell Martin hit a solo homer in the second, Tony Sanchez singled and Neil Walker walked on four pitches. Inge then sent a shot over the wall in left on a 2-and-2 count and that was followed by a Marte solo homer to make it 6-0.
Manager Eric Wedge lifted the ineffective Saunders after he had allowed six earned runs on six hits in just 1.2 innings. He struck out one and walked one.
The Pirates raked four Seattle pitchers for 12 hits, including five home runs. After Saunders yielded three, reliever Carter Capps allowed two.
The Mariners got a run back in the second on Carlos Triunfel’s RBI single. But the Pirates extended their lead to 7-1 in the sixth when Inge scored on a Kyle Seager error. Seager hit a home run in the bottom of the inning to make it 7-2, and then Marte came back with his second home run in the eighth off Capps to make it 8-2. Sanchez made it 9-2 with a solo shot of Capps, and Justin Smoak hit a useless, two-run shot in the ninth.
Aside from the home runs by Seager and Smoak, the Mariners generated little offense. They finished with just five hits.
The Mariners and Pirates conclude the two-game series Wednesday at 12:4o p.m. Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.71 ERA) will work for Seattle opposite Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 3.07). Although Gomez, just returning from the disabled list (right forearm tightness), has won just two games, the Pirates have won each of his seven starts.
NOTES: The Mariners Tuesday recalled INF/OF Dustin Ackley from AAA Tacoma and placed OF Franklin Gutierrez on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. Ackley did not play Tuesday . . . Raul Ibanez has hit 15 of his 17 home runs since May 10. His eight long balls in June are tied for the most in the American League this month . . . When Kendrys Morales hit his three-run walk-off home run Sunday to beat the A’s in the bottom of the 10th, he joined Ken Phelps (Sept. 3, 1986) as the only players in Mariners history to hit a walk-off homer as a pinch-hitter . . . Backup catcher Jesus Sucre is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, as soon as his left wrist contusion heals.