SEATTLE – Those aren’t mirrors the Seattle Mariners have used to move closer to the American League West Division lead, despite the appearance considering the maladies that have hammered the team lately.
Superb pitching has been the constant this season.
The Mariners are accepting gifts, however, and the Arizona Diamondbacks gave them a big one Sunday.
First baseman Tony Clark dropped a throw for what would have been the third out in the ninth inning, allowing the Mariners to score the winning run in a 3-2 victory at Safeco Field.
That followed an error that led to the Mariners’ tying run in the eighth after the Diamondbacks’ Mark Reynolds had hit a two-run homer off Mariners starter Felix Hernandez.
The victory pulled the Mariners within 2 1/2 games of first place in the division and moved them over .500 – at 35-34 – for the first time since they were 15-14 on May 7.
That’s an accomplishment for a team missing left fielder Endy Chavez (season-ending knee injury), third baseman Adrian Beltre (day-to-day with a sore left shoulder), first baseman Russell Branyan (day-to-day with a sore right forearm), second baseman Jose Lopez (bereavement leave), DH Ken Griffey Jr. (sore left knee) and closer David Aardsma (day off after pitching four of the past five).
The group that won Sunday included Chris Woodward at third base, Ronny Cedeno at second, Mike Carp at first and Mike Sweeney at DH. Woodward finished in pain after hurting his groin early in the game.
“Great win,” Wakamatsu said. “With all the things we’ve got going on right now, these guys just keep pulling together.”
Hernandez certainly did when the Mariners needed him most.
It was the 10th time in 15 starts that Hernandez allowed two runs or less. Still, the Mariners trailed when Hernandez exited after Reynolds’ home run.
Second baseman Felipe Lopez’s throwing error allowed Carp to reach second base with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth, and he scored after Sweeney singled and Gutierrez hit a fielder’s choice grounder.
Then the Diamondbacks kept giving in the ninth. Left-handed reliever Clay Zavada issued a leadoff walk to .123-hitting Cedeno, and Ichiro Suzuki followed with an infield single to finish a 12-pitch at-bat. It was Ichiro’s second hit, following a third-inning triple that was his 1,900th major league hit.
Woodward struck out trying to bunt before Carp grounded out to first base for the second out. The Diamondbacks intentionally walked Sweeney, then brought in right-hander Chad Qualls to face Gutierrez.
He got Gutierrez to hit a bouncer to third, where Reynolds charged the ball and made an off-balance throw to first for what looked like a sure third out to send the game into extra innings. Instead, the throw bounced off the heel of Clark’s glove at first and Cedeno scored the winning run.
“Probably the last 5 feet, the ball moved about 2 feet or more. It kind of rode back in,” said Mariners first base coach Lee Tinsley.
Wakamatsu was simply thankful for the effort from his patchwork lineup.
“My hat’s off to this club and how hard they play,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen a game end on a ground ball. I’ll take it.”
M’s 3, Diamondbacks 2
|a-Griffey Jr. ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||.219|
E—Clark (2), F.Lopez (8). LOB—Arizona 8, Seattle 12. 2B—Ojeda (7), F.Gutierrez (6). 3B—I.Suzuki (3). HR—Reynolds (19), off F.Hernandez. RBIs—Reynolds 2 (49), F.Gutierrez (24), Y.Betancourt (22). SB—F.Lopez (5). CS—Y.Betancourt (1). RLISP—Arizona 5 (Reynolds 2, Ojeda, Byrnes, F.Lopez); Seattle 4 (Woodward 2, Balentien, Griffey Jr.). RMU—J.Upton, Montero, Carp, Cedeno. GIDP—Byrnes, M.Sweeney. DP—Arizona 1 (Ojeda, F.Lopez, Clark); Seattle 1 (Woodward, J.Burke).
|Rauch BS, 1-3||2/3||2||0||0||0||0||22||4.94|
|Zavada L, 1-1||1||1||1||0||2||1||34||0.00|
|M.Lowe W, 1-4||1||1||0||0||0||2||17||3.58|
IR-S—Rauch 1-1, Zavada 2-0, Qualls 3-1. IBB—off D.Davis (I.Suzuki), off Zavada (M.Sweeney). HBP—by F.Hernandez (Ojeda). WP—F.Hernandez. T—3:09. A—37,251 (47,878).