Acquired at the July 31 trade deadline from Detroit, center fielder Austin Jackson entered Sunday’s series finale with the Chicago White Sox batting .219 with one RBI in eight games for the Mariners. But Jackson turned around that lameness in a big way, going 3-for-4 and driving in all the runs in Seattle’s 4-2 victory in front of 27,236 at Safeco Field.
Closer Fernando Rodney nearly made a calamity out of it, allowing an RBI single and loading the bases in the ninth with two outs. But Rodney, charged with the loss Saturday night when he imploded in the ninth, recovered to strike out Jordan Danks swinging to end the game. Rodney’s save was his 33rd in 36 chances.
The Mariners (62-55) improved to 5-1 on the nine-game home stand, won for the seventh time in 11 contests and leveled their record at 11-11 since the All-Star break. They didn’t gain ground on Kansas City for the second wild card spot since the Royals, 1.5 games ahead entering the day, defeated the San Francisco Giants 7-4.
Jackson unloaded a bases-clearing double in the second inning and added a run-scoring single in the seventh. He continued his domination of Chicago starter John Danks, padding his career numbers against Danks to 21-for-49 (.429).
“He swung the bat extremely well,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of Jackson. “What you saw is the kind of hitter he can be. He’s a slasher. He’s not a 100-RBI guy by any means, but he can hit doubles and triples all over the field.”
Asked about the Jackson vs. Danks match, McClendon said, “Some guys hit some pitchers better than others. There are some guys he (Jackson) stinks against. But off Danks, he just sees the ball coming off this guy.”
“I try not to do to much in that situation,” Jackson said of his bases-loaded double. “I just put the ball in play and make things happen, try to get a good pitch and let the rest take care of itself. I didn’t think all three runs were going to come in to score, but they did.”
After the 3-0 lead, Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez cruised until the fifth inning, not allowing a White Sox runner into scoring position. Then, with one out, he hit catcher Tyler Flowers, gave up a single to Jordan Danks and fell behind Gordon Beckham 2-and-1.
McClendon had seen enough of Ramirez, summoned from Tacoma Sunday morning to make the start, and yanked him mid-at-bat in favor of Dominic Leone, who induced Beckham to bang into an inning-ending double play
“I thought he was out of gas,” McClendon said of Ramirez. “He pitched two days ago (in Tacoma). He elevated some pitches that inning and I thought it was time to go to the bullpen.”
Tom Wilhelmsen worked a perfect seventh, but gave up a solo homer to Flowers in the eighth when he left a fastball in the middle of the plate.
Rodney ceded an infield hit to Alexei Ramirez leading off the ninth, then a single to AL home run leader Jose Abreu. Rodney fanned Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo, but Connor Gillaspie’s RBI single to center scored Ramirez. After loading the bases by plunking Flowers, Rodney whiffed Danks to end it.
Logan Morrison’s second-inning single extended his hitting streak to an American League-high 11 games . . . Chris Taylor’s infield knock in the second means that he has hit safely in each of his 12 starts. Taylor also had a double, his fifth, and is batting .400 . . . McClendon successfully challenged a pickoff play in the sixth after first baseman Morrison appeared to tag out Alejandro De Aza before he could get back to the bag. De Aza was initially ruled safe, but replays showed otherwise . . . The intentional walk Robinson Cano drew in the seventh inning was his 15th of the season. The single-season franchise record is 27 by Ichiro in 2002 . . . Erasmo Ramirez was optioned back to AAA Tacoma and will be breplaced on the roster by a position player, either James Jones or Michael Saunders.
NEXT: A three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night with Felix Hernandez (12-3, 1.97) seeking his 13th victory. Toronto, which went 19 innings at home Sunday before beating the Tigers 6-5, using seven relievers, counter with RHP Drew Hutchinson (8-9, 3.93). Following the Toronto series, the Mariners embark upon a three-city, nine-game road trip through Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston.