SEATTLE – Nelson Cruz offered a hint of things to come Saturday night when he crushed a 459-foot homer, a three-run shot, in the first inning. That was just the start.
The Mariners hit five homers in a 12-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field. That makes three straight victories over the Orioles, who arrived in Seattle with a seven-game winning streak.
Mike Zunino hit two homers in his first big-league game in more than 10 months. Seth Smith hit a homer for a third straight game, a career first. And Adam Lind joined the party.
For all that, the Mariners had trouble landing a knockout blow.
James Paxton (2-3) entered the sixth with a 9-2 lead but couldn’t make it through the inning. Nathan Karns gave up a two-run homer in the seventh inning to Chris Davis.
The Orioles kept the game almost within reach, but never quite got there. The Mariners always had an answer whenever the situation demanded one and reached the midpoint of their season at 42-39.
The Mariners rocked Baltimore starter Tyler Wilson (4-6) for eight runs and nine hits in three-plus innings.
All eight runs scored on homers: Cruz’s three-run boomer in the first; Zunino’s two-run drive in the second; and Smith’s three-run shot in the fourth.
Tom Wilhelmsen replaced Paxton with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning to face Adam Jones, who popped the ball up on a full-count fastball.
That’s was fine, except neither shortstop Shawn O’Malley nor second baseman Robinson Cano appeared to see it. O’Malley grabbed it at the last instant.
The Mariners answered with three runs later in the inning against relievers Vance Worley and Mychal Givens. Kyle Seager sliced a one-out double to left and scored when Dae-Ho Lee followed with an apparent double.
Lee came off second after the slide and was tagged out. Lee argued he was pushed off the base by second baseman Jonathan Schoop, but the call stood. Lee was credited with an RBI single.
The Mariners kept coming.
Lind hit a homer to left and, after Givens replaced Worley, Zunino hit his second homer of the game. The Mariners led 12-4.
Karns inherited that eight-run bulge to start the seventh but gave two back on a Davis homer. But Karns steadied and allowed nothing more in closing out the victory.
Cruz’s missile provided the Paxton and the Mariners with a 3-0 lead in the first inning. It came on a first-pitch fastball from Wilson and followed one-out singles by Smith and Cano.
The Mariners extended their lead to 5-0 in the second inning.
Lind led off with a double just beyond the reach of left fielder Nolan Reimold. Zunino then followed with a drive to left on a 1-2 curve that cleared the wall for a two-run homer.
Paxton had faced the minimum nine hitters through three innings, but Jones opened the fourth with a single that should have been an out.
Lind had plenty of time after knocking down a hard grounder at first but rushed the throw to Paxton. That mistake turned into a run when Manny Machado and Davis delivered one-out singles.
Paxton avoided further damage by getting Mark Trumbo to ground into a double play.
The Mariners responded with more muscle.
Shawn O’Malley started the bottom of the fourth with a single. After Wilson walked Leonys Martin, he fell behind 3-0 on Smith before choosing to come in with a 90 mph meatball.
Smith was waiting and crushed a 430-foot homer to right. The Mariners led 8-1, and the Orioles went to the bullpen for Worley.
Baltimore pulled one run back in the fifth inning by cashing an error by O’Malley on Matt Wieters’ leadoff grounder. Two ground-ball singles produced an unearned run.
But the Mariners answered that run later in the inning with a two-out RBI single from Smith. That sent Paxton into the sixth inning with a 9-2 lead.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.