Bolstered by news that GM Jack Zduriencik acquired two veteran outfielders, the Mariners offense scored six runs on 11 hits to defeat Cleveland 6-5 Thursday. Mike Zunino hit an eighth-inning, two-run home run to provide Seattle (56-52) the difference.On a 2-0 count with no outs and Kyle Seager on first base after a walk, Zunino got a pitch up and in from Bryan Shaw and didn’t miss it. Seattle won its first series after dropping three in a row out of the All-Star break.
With the series on the line, each team turned to an elite bullpen after an ineffective outing from its starter.
The pens of Seattle (2.36 ERA) and Cleveland (2.91 ERA) were ranked 1-2 in the American League. Both units were used extensively by managers Lloyd McClendon and Terry Francona after neither Chris Young, nor Zach McAllister, could get through six innings. Each team used six relievers, with Fernando Rodney picking up his AL-leading 30th save.
Cleveland (53-55) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Michael Brantley singled home Jason Kipnis, who doubled. The Mariners responded with a run in the second when Kendrys Morales scored on a sacrifice fly by Logan Morrison.
Morales led off with a double to left field, snapping an 0-for-13 skid and notching his first extra-base hit in his second go-round with the M’s.
In the third, Seattle claimed a 4-1 lead when Dustin Ackley had a two-run homer off McAllister and Robinson Cano doubled home Chris Taylor. Cleveland came back in the bottom half with three to tie. The big blow was a two-run homerby Kipnis, who got a fastball up over the middle of the plate for his sixth homer.
Brantley hit a one-out triple to right that eluded Corey Hart and scored the tying run when Carlos Santana delivered a sacrifice fly.
Young (9-6, 3.19 ERA) struggled to keep the ball down and Cleveland made him pay. Young lasted 5.1 innings after allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out one while working hard over 100 pitches to keep the game knotted at 4.
Cleveland took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when Jose Ramirez, playing short in place of the traded Asdrubal Cabrera, beat out an infield single with one out.
After a walk to Brantley spelled the end for Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar yielded a go-ahead RBI-single to Santana. Joe Beimel got the final out.
Zunino vaulted Seattle into the lead with one swing, capping a good day of offense for the team. Of the 11 hits, four were for extra bases and three players (Cano, Taylor and Endy Chavez) finished with two.
McAllister (3-6, 5.91 ERA) allowed four runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings.
Seattle heads to Baltimore for a rematch with the Orioles where recently acquired outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia will meet the team.
LHP James Paxton was announced as the starter for Saturday’s game in Baltimore by Zduriencik on a local Seattle radio station . . . Farquhar left Thursday’s game after taking a line drive off his throwing arm (bicep area) in the seventh inning.