LHP Roenis Elias (1-1) allowed one run over a dominant 7.2 innings, CF Justin Ruggiano delivered a two-run homer and closer Fernando Rodney got through a tense ninth inning Wednesday to guide the Mariners (18-21) to a 4-2 win (box score) over the Orioles (17-20) at Camden Yards.
Rodney entered in the ninth and promptly allowed back-to-back singles to CF Adam Jones and RF Delmon Young. He struck out 1B Chris Davis and LF Steve Pearce looking. After SS J.J. Hardy hit a bloop RBI single to make it 4-2, Rodney got pinch-hitter Travis Snider to ground out and pick up his 10th save.
Facing Orioles RHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-3) with one out in the fourth inning, Ruggiano hammered a two-run homer into the left-field seat for a 3-0 lead.
The Mariners also got to Chen early. In the second, C Mike Zunino took an 0-2 pitch and hit a two-out double to drive in Ruggiano, who hit a double earlier in the inning. Ruggiano finished 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs and a strikeout.
Unlike Tuesday’s 9-4 loss, the Mariners added on after a three-run advantage. In the seventh, SS Chris Taylor lined a triple into the right-field corner to drive in 1B Logan Morrison.
The Mariners pounded out 12 hits but should have scored more. They finished 2-for-9 with runners in scoring posiiton and left eight on base.
Since being recalled April 26 from Triple-A Tacoma, Elias in five outings has produced four quality starts of at least six innings and three runs or less.
Thursday he was at his best and picked up his first win, mostly because his change-up was working. The 26-year-old Cuban defector allowed six hits and didn’t walk a batter while striking out four. His ERA plummeted to 2.76.
He ran into trouble in the eighth when 2B Rey Navarro and 3B Manny Machado hit two-out singles. Reliever Carson Smith came in and gave up a Jimmy Paredes RBI single. But Parades was thrown out at second base by RF Nelson Cruz after the Triple Crown candidate let the ball roll a few feet behind him before recovering.
The out call was upheld after a replay review.
Ruggiano on his fourth-inning homer: “Honestly, in that situation, I was choked up with a two-strike approach from the beginning. I had a a man on third and one out so I wanted to make sure I got him in some way. I just happened to put a short swing on a hanging slider.”
The Mariners made a series of minor roster moves the past two days. C Wellington Castillo, acquired Tuesday from the Chicago Cubs in a trade for reliever Yoervis Medina, was activated and placed on the 25-man roster Wednesday. To make room, C Jesus Sucre was optioned Tuesday to Triple-A Tacoma. Castillo will start in place of Zunino Thursday . . . LHP Edgar Olmos was taken off the disabled list (left shoulder impingement) and optioned to Tacoma. He is likely to join the Rainiers this weekend. The organization also signed reliever Kevin Gregg, a Corvallis, OR., native, to a minor league deal. He will be on the Rainiers active roster Thursday. Gregg, 36, was released by the Cincinnati Reds May 11 after he went 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA in 11 appearances. He has 177 saves over his 13-year big-league career . . . Rehabbing CF Austin Jackson joined the Rainiers on their road trip and likely won’t be recalled for the three-game weekend series in Toronto because of the field turf at Rogers Centre. Jackson sprained his ankle May 3 against the Astros . . . OF Alex Jackson, 19, was reassigned from Low-A Clinton to extended spring training Wednesday. The club’s top prospect and sixth pick in the 2014 MLB draft had a .157 batting average, no home runs and a .453 OPS in 28 games before the demotion . . . In a Wednesday interview on ESPN 710’s “Brock and Salk” show, general manager Jack Zduriencik said it’s time for the Mariners to “figure it out . . . (there’s) enough talent to be a real competitive ballclub, and they should be performing better than what we’re doing now.” The full interview can be found here.
The Mariners wrap up the three-game series Thursday at 9:35 a.m. PT (ROOT) at Camden Yards. LHP J.A. Happ (3-1, 2.98 ERA) will go against former RHP Chris Tillman (2-5, 6.34 ERA), a former Mariners prospect that was part of the infamous February 2008 trade that also sent Adam Jones, LHP George Sherrill, reliever Kam Mickolio and minor leaguer Tony Butler to Baltimore in exchange for LHP Erik Bedard. Tillman is 6-0 with a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners.