Kyle Seager swatted a pair of dramatic home runs — a grand slam in the eighth and a solo shot in the 10th — as the Mariners twice rallied to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. Closer Fernando Rodney frittered away Seager’s slam and a 6-3 lead in the ninth by coughing up three. But Seager made an unlikely winner out of Rodney by nailing a shot to dead center as the Mariners improved to 22-23 with Felix Hernandez due up in the series finale Wednesday.
Winners of four of their past five and 5-3 on their nine-game road trip, the Mariners remain seven games behind Houston in the AL West. The Astros defeated Baltimore 4-1 Tuesday.
Seager’s solo shot off closer Brad Boxberger provided the winning margin, but his salami in the eighth put the Mariners in position to win. Trailing 3-2, pinch hitter Rickie Weeks and Robinson Cano opened with singles. Nelson Cruz hit a ball that former Mariner Nick Franklin booted at second, loading the bases with no outs. The Mariners were hitting .223 with runners in scoring position and without a slam in 140 slam situations dating to Sept. 28, 2013, but Seager rocketed a first-pitch fastball from Jake McGee over the right-field wall.
Seager went 3-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tops on the club. Cano had an 11-game streak from April 13-25. Seager (10 home runs) had a career-high six RBIs. He has reached base in a career-high 21 consecutive games.
Seth Smith and Seager had RBI singles in the first, giving Seattle a 2-0 edge. Cruz had two hits, reaching 1,000 for his career. Making his first start since May 4, CF Austin Jackson went 1-for-5.
The Mariners have homered in five consecutive games and 10 of 11. They have 32 homers in May. They went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and blew a one-out, bases-loaded opportunity in the first when Welington Castillo hit into a double play.
Rodney, entering with 13 saves in 14 chances, gagged the ninth, allowing a pair of singles before plunking Joey Butler, loading the bases. Evan Longoria came with inches of a walk-off grand slam, as his two-run double bounced off the top of the wall. Rodney allowed three earned runs on three hits and a hit batter among 29 pitches and suffered his second blown save. But he collected his second victory, improving to 2-2.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, starter A.J. Happ gave both runs back in the first as he labored through a 34-pitch inning. But he made it through six, throwing a season-high 111 pitches while allowing three earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and a walk. Happ was seeking his first win since May 9.
Joe Beimel’s save was his first since 2008.
“When you fall behind 0-and-2 against any closer, you have all you can handle” — Kyle Seager on his game-winning home run.
“We talked about it a couple of days ago, that we haven’t had a grand slam since 2013. I don’t remember having any success off (Jake) McGee before. But I got a pitch I could handle” — Seager on his slam.
“I’ve been around a long time and this one is a first for me. A lot of weird things went on in that game. Sometimes you win ugly, but winning is all that counts. Tonight, Seager got home runs off guys that don’t give them up. He saved us” — manager Lloyd McClendon.
Seager’s grand slam marked Seattle’s first since Brad Miller off Oakland’s Jarrod Parker Sept. 28, 2013 . . . The Mariners improved to 4-3 in extra-inning games and are 21-19 vs. the American League and 6-7-2 in series played . . . . The Mariners have won five consecutive games at Tropicana Field for first time in franchise history . . . The Mariners are 12-9 in one-run games . . . The first inning took 45 minutes, including a two-minute, 57-second review of a play at the plate.
The Mariners wind up their nine-game road trip with the third of three at Tampa Bay. Felix Hernandez (7-1, 2.19) goes for his eighth victory and will contest RHP Chris Archer (5-4, 2.40). The Mariners begin a four-game set with the Cleveland Indians Thursday at 7:10 p.m. at Safeco Field.