After the Mariners (Nelson Cruz) and Twins (Brian Dozier) exchanged ninth-inning home runs to even the score 1-1 in what had been a scoreless pitching duel between Hisashi Iwakuma and Mike Pelfrey, Seattle busted through for three runs in the 11th and defeated Minnesota 4-1 Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis (box score). The Mariners (48-58) split the four-game series but remained 12 back in the AL West (Houston beat Arizona 4-1) and seven in arrears of the second wild card.
Top prospect INF Ketel Marte, summoned from AAA Tacoma late last week, drew a leadoff walk in the 11th from Kevin Jepsen and took second on a wild pitch. Among six Seattle batters that followed, Logan Morrison hit an RBI double and Austin Jackson a two-RBI single.
Cruz’s two-out jolt off Glen Perkins over the center field wall was his 29th, and 22nd on the road, most in the majors. He drilled a fastball middle in for his third home run of the series and finished the game 2-for-5.
Marte (3-for-4 with a walk and run scored) produced his first multi-hit game in the majors with a pair of infield hits and a single to left. The Mariners went 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Iwakuma was two outs away from the 13th complete-game one-hitter in franchise history when he allowed the ninth-inning solo shot to Dozier. Before that, Iwakuma had gone 41.2 innings over six starts without allowing a run at Target Field. Iwakuma worked 8.2 innings, allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked one. He threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of 30 batters.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey nearly matched Iwakuma, allowing no runs on four hits over eight innings. Tom Wilhelmsen’s save was his second of the year.
“Iwakuma was unbelievable. He left just one pitch up (Dozier’s home run), but other than that, it was an amazing outing and we needed that. He never stressed the whole game. Also, (Marte) showed what he could do, not only at the plate, but on the bases. That was big for us to do those types of things” — Lloyd McClendon, Seattle manager.
The Mariners (8-7) have played an AL-high 15 extra-inning games . . . The Mariners improved to 26-27 on the road, 10-16-8 in series played and 15-19 in day games . . . McClendon said RHP Vidal Nuno will make a spot start Tuesday when the Mariners play the second of three against the Colorado Rockies. Nuno will fill a void left when Seattle traded J.A. Happ to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 28-year-old Nuno has a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 innings of relief over 18 outings . . . Reliever Charlie Furbush, sidelined with biceps tendinitis, is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with AAA Tacoma.
The Mariners begin a three-game series against the Rockies at Coors Field Monday night. Felix Hernandez (12-6, 3.02) will start for Seattle opposite RHP Eddie Butler (3-7, 4.82).