SEATTLE — Marlon Byrd hit an opposite field RBI single with one out in the 13th inning, and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep in Seattle with a 3-2 victory over the Mariners on Thursday.
Hitless since the ninth inning but having plenty of chances, Byrd finally came through on a day both teams struggled to get clutch hits.
Pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano led off the 13th with a walk against reliever Garrett Olson (0-2). Kosuke Fukudome sacrificed Soriano to second and, after Ryan Theriot walked, Byrd lined a 1-2 pitch from Sean White into right field. Soriano was waved around third and beat Ichiro Suzuki’s throw to the plate.
John Grabow (1-3) pitched two innings of relief for the win. He gave up just one hit in his first victory since May 24, 2009, for Pittsburgh.
Tom Gorzelanny got one out 13th inning for his first career save.
The Cubs victory snapped Seattle’s six-game winning streak and spoiled another stellar performance by right-hander Felix Hernandez. But Hernandez became a footnote for a day when Seattle’s bats had many chances to hand Hernandez his sixth win of the season. The Mariners left 13 runners on base and were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
Mike Fontenot drove in Chicago’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the third and Chad Tracy gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the seventh with an RBI single.
Jack Wilson hit an RBI double in the bottom half off reliever Andrew Cashner to tie it 2-all.
It was the continuation of a strong month by Hernandez. Recovering from a 2-4 start to the season, Hernandez has now thrown at least eight innings on five of his last six outings. He tossed a complete game last Saturday against Cincinnati, giving up just one run and five hits.
He nearly matched that on Thursday. Hernandez scattered five hits, struck out eight and allowed just the two runs.
Closer David Aardsma came on for the 10th inning and immediately walked Tracy on four pitches and saw pinch-runner Starlin Castro advance to second on Koyie Hill’s sacrifice.
Castro moved to third on Fukudome’s groundout, and Aardsma got Theriot to fly out to right to end the threat.
Seattle missed on another great scoring chance in the bottom half. Chone Figgins led off with a four-pitch walk from Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who got Ichiro Suzuki for the final out of the ninth. Marmol walked Mike Sweeney as well, but recovered to get Jose Lopez swinging at strike three in the dirt for the first out.
Figgins was then at the front-end of a double steal and was called safe by third base umpire Mike Reilly on a close play. That brought Lou Piniella out of the Cubs dugout. Piniella barked at Reilly for a few minutes, taking off his hat and seeming on the verge of getting ejected before returning to the dugout.
After Franklin Gutierrez was intentionally walked, Marmol struck out Josh Wilson and Eliezer Alfonzo, both on wicked sliders, to end the threat.
Cubs starter Ted Lilly threw six strong innings, but his day was cut short by a high pitch count. Lilly surrendered just one run, five hits and struck out six.