Superb pitching by James Paxton and three relievers and a two-run double by Willie Bloomquist provided the Mariners with a 3-2 victory over Toronto Saturday and set up Seattle for a sweep in the series finale Sunday at Rogers Centre (box score). Paxton saw his AL-best consecutive scoreless innings streak end at 20 when he allowed an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly in the first inning. Paxton’s only other mistake was Chris Colabello’s solo homer in the fourth as the Mariners improved to 20-22.
After Kyle Seager tied the score 1-1 in the second with a solo homer (sixth long ball of the season), Chris Taylor ripped a ground-rule double with one out in the third. Following a walk to Rickie Weeks, Bloomquist, who started in right field, lashed a two-run double off the top of the wall in left for what proved to be the winning runs.
Seager’s hitting streak reached nine games with his solo home run in the second. The Mariners have hit 53 homers this year, an AL-high 40 of them solo shots.
Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to five games with a sixth-inning single. Cruz needs three hits to reach 1,000 for his career. Ge has at least one hit in 13 of his last 15 games. Robinson Cano is 0-for-7 in the first two games of the series.
Taylor went 2-for-4, collecting his first multi-hit game of the season. The Mariners went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position. They had runners at second and third in the seventh, but Taylor popped out.
Paxton (3-2, 3.52) threw 90 pitches over six innings, allowed four hits, fanned four and walked a pair. Paxton’s fastball topped out at 97 mph. He extended his unbeaten streak to five games . . . Tom Wilhelmsen (7th) and Carson Smith (8th) pitched scoreless innings after Paxton’s departure, setting up Fernando Rodney’s 12th save in 13 chances. Rodney had an easy ninth, inducing a ground ball out and adding two strikeouts.
“I started to feel better about the third inning and after that the ball was going where I wanted it to go.” — Seattle starter James Paxton.
“His change was better, his fastball came out real good, he hit his spots and was really focused.” — manager Lloyd McClendon, on Paxton’s start.
The Mariners have won nine of their last 14, are 19-18 against the AL, 5-7-2 in series played and 10-6 in day games . . .Web Gem: In the bottom of the sixth, with Toronto runners occupying first and second and one out following Paxton walks, Danny Valencia jolted a liner toward right that could have tied the score. But Robinson Cano stabbed it adroitly, then flipped backward to Taylor for the inning-ending double play . . . Former Mariner Justin Smoak (2010-14), acquired by the Blue Jays in October, had his first at-bat against Seattle when he pinch hit in the seventh inning. Smoak went downing swinging against Wilhelmsen . . . The game was played in two hours, 25 minutes.
The Mariners close out their three-game set at 10 a.m. PT Sunday. RHP Taijuan Walker (1-4, 7.47) will start for Seattle opposite RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-4, 4.17). The Mariners conclude their nine-game road trip with a three-game series at Tampa Bay, starting Monday.