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Sparse crowd sees M’s get streak to 3

Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan throws to first for a double play after forcing Manny Machado. (Associated Press)
Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan throws to first for a double play after forcing Manny Machado. (Associated Press)

SEATTLE – Michael Saunders homered in his first at-bat since he was activated from the disabled list and Joe Saunders pitched his eighth career complete game to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in front of the smallest crowd ever at Safeco Field on Monday night.

Kyle Seager had a two-run triple and Jason Bay added three hits as the Mariners won their third straight game for their longest winning streak of the season. Their latest victory came in front of announced total of 9,818 at the 14-year-old ballpark.

Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer for Baltimore. Zach Britton (0-1) gave up six runs and 10 hits over six innings in his first start of the season after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk.

Joe Saunders (2-3) gave up his first earned run at Safeco Field this season in his third home start, but went the distance for the first time since April 27, 2012. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out two while improving to 8-0 at the Mariners’ longtime home.

Britton got into trouble after a strange sequence in the sixth. After Justin Smoak singled to start the inning, umpire Alan Porter made a hard throw to give Britton the new ball and it hit the left-hander on his throwing shoulder. Britton was briefly shaken up, and when he returned to the mound it didn’t get any better.

Bay followed with his third hit of the game and, after Robert Andino’s sacrifice, Brendan Ryan hit an RBI single. It looked as if Britton might get out of the inning when Michael Saunders hit a weak, broken-bat grounder to second base, but the ball was too slow for the Orioles to turn the double play, and Seager followed with his triple.

Saunders had sprained his right shoulder on April 10 when he crashed into the fence while making a catch and was activated before the game. He sent Britton’s second pitch into the right-center field seats for his first career leadoff home run.

“It was tough,” Saunders said of being idle for nearly three weeks. “The hardest thing about being on the DL is being in the dugout or being in the training room and watching the guys play. You want nothing more than to be out there trying to help the club.”