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Nelson Cruz, Denard Span hit back-to-back homers to lead Mariners to victory

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Nelson Cruz and Denard Span hit back-to-back home runs, and the Seattle Mariners overcame sloppy infield defense to beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Despite winning their first home series since July 22, the Mariners failed to gain ground on Oakland in the A.L. wild-card race. They still trail by 5 1/2 games with 22 games remaining.

Mike Leake (9-9) gave up two unearned runs in six innings to earn his first victory since Aug. 15. Edwin Diaz locked down his major league-leading 53rd save, joining Randy Myers (1993), Trevor Hoffman (1998) and Mariano Rivera (2004) who sit tied for fifth-most saves in a single season in baseball history.

Taking advantage of three Seattle errors, including two by shortstop Jean Segura, the Orioles grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.

Segura’s throw on Jonathan Villar’s ground ball was low and wide, skipping past Robinson Cano at first base for the first error. Cedric Mullins scored on the play to tie the game at 1-all.

Two batters later, Adam Jones’ ground ball glanced off Segura’s glove and into left field. Villar raced around and beat Span’s throw to home plate to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead.

But with two outs in the fifth, Cruz hammered a 411-foot home run off Andrew Cashner to straightaway center field to tie the game at 2-all. It was Cruz’s 34th home of the season.

Span took Cashner (4-14) deep in the next at-bat, sending a solo home run to right field, and the Mariners regained the lead, 3-2.

Span’s RBI single in the seventh scored Cruz, boosting Seattle’s lead to 4-2. Span later scored on Guillermo Heredia’s sacrifice bunt.

Since taking two of three games from the Chicago White Sox in late July at Safeco Field, the Mariners were 0-4-1 in their past five home series before the Orioles rolled into town.

Quiet clubhouse

A day after a fracas reportedly broke out between infielders Dee Gordon and Segura in the Mariners’ clubhouse before the game Tuesday, all was calm around the team.

Segura pitched a wiffle ball to his son on the field, and had him around the team leading up to first pitch. Gordon also seemed in good spirits – but still in no mood to rehash what transpired.

“We’re all good,” Gordon said. “We get to play baseball.”

Roster reshuffling

After three relievers (Adam Warren, Zach Duke, Nick Vincent) combined to give up four runs in the seventh inning Tuesday, the team’s bullpen ERA in that inning rose to 5.19. Manager Scott Servais said the loss of RHP Sam Tuivailala (Achilles) in early August has had a great impact in seventh-inning usage, adding he will likely give RHPs Shawn Armstrong (who pitched the seventh in Wednesday’s game), Ryan Cook and Chasen Bradford looks later in games. … After clearing waivers, RHP Rob Whalen was outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday.

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