They couldnt celebrate fast enough.
Jason Bays broken-bat bloop single to left field had barely touched the green grass of the Safeco Field outfield, and Kendrys Morales hadnt quite touched home plate with the winning run when the Seattle Mariners were spilling out of their dugout in celebration.
When youve lost eight straight games and are staring directly at nine in a row for four nail-biting extra innings, elation is easy to find in victory.
The Mariners 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers in 13 innings on Sunday might not start a winning streak, but it stopped a frustrating, emotionally draining eight-game losing streak.
While players and managers often downplay individual wins and losses in the marathon that is a 162-game season, the Mariners werent afraid to admit how much they wanted and needed a victory to stop the losing if even for just a day.
Its probably bigger than people will let on, Bay said. Just with the struggles weve been going through. Our bench was the most enthusiastic its been all week. I think everybody in the dugout collectively felt a sense of urgency.
Even manager Eric Wedge admitted there was a chance for his team to exhale and not have the losing streak loom over everything.
Its been a tough week, Wedge said. Weve got a good group of guys out there that are grinding and fighting and not giving into it. A lot of breaks have gone against us this week. Weve got guys who are working to try to get where they need to be to help us win games. Weve got a lot going on out there. And this was a great win for us.
For much of Sunday, there was an impending sense that it wouldnt happen.
Seattle trailed 2-0 after five innings, doing little against Texas starter Nick Tepesch while the 23,154 in attendance bristled at the lack of offense with each out.
Morales put the Mariners right back into the game with one swing in the sixth inning. With Kyle Seager on third after a leadoff double and a fielders choice, Morales crushed a two-run homer to right-center field off Tepesch to tie the game.
There was a guy on third and I had to get him in, Morales said through a translator. I got the ball up high enough to hit a home run, but I wasnt trying to hit a home run. I just wanted to get the guy in from third.
The Mariners missed chances to win in the eighth and ninth innings, and looked as if they might lose it in the 11th.
Pinch-hitter Elvis Andrus singled off Carter Capps to start the inning. Andrus moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Texas manager Ron Washington called on left-handed swinging pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski. Wedge countered with left-hander Oliver Perez out of the bullpen. But the left-on-left matchup didnt help. Pierzynski dumped a single into left field to score Andrus to put the Rangers up 3-2.
A ninth-straight loss was imminent.
In the bottom of the 11th, Texas closer Joe Nathan came on to try for his 17th save, having converted his first 16 save chances this season. But 17 never came. Raul Ibañez jumped on the first pitch he saw a 91 mph fastball and crushed a line drive over the wall in right field for his ninth homer of the season to tie the game.
Thats what he does, Wedge said. Hes one of the best clutch hitters in the game as far Im concerned. He has a great heartbeat. He knows himself so well. He wants to be up in those situations. It kept us going. He really stepped up for us.
There is no secret to what Ibañez was trying to do.
I think you just have the mindset of getting a good pitch to hit and not try to do too much with it just barrel it up, Ibañez said. Fortunately I was able to get that pitch and get it airborne.
It looked as though the Mariners had the game won later in the inning. Bay hit a towering fly ball to left-center field that David Murphy made a leaping catch at the wall to end the inning. Would it have gone out? Maybe. But it would have been an extra-base hit for certain if not for Murphys catch.
Thats the question of the day, Bay said. It was one of those ones that was a maybe off the bat and this park doesnt reward maybe.
After Seattle reliever Yoervis Medina wiggled out of a situation with runners on first and third with one out in the 13th without allowing a run, the Mariners finally won it in the bottom of the 13th.
Morales delivered a one-out double to right-center off Ross Wolf. He advanced to third on Carlo Triunfels grounder back to the mound. Bay stepped up and went after the first pitch a fastball getting just enough of it to send it into left field despite breaking his bat.
It was the first time they threw me a first-pitch fastball and I was looking for a breaking ball, Bay said. Funny how the game works out, you break your bat when you fly out to 375 and get nothing. And you break a bat on a soft liner and it wins the game.
Bay knew how much the team needed the hit and the win.
To come through, especially with the way weve been playing, it feels great not just for me, but for a lot of people, he said. It was a big sigh of relief for a lot of people.
The normally stoic Bay even had a big fist pump as he sprinted to first and a big smile as he was pummeled by teammates.
It doesnt matter how many times youve done it once or 500 having a walk-off hit, whether its a homer or a blooper, its pretty cool, he said. I think everybody was feeling it.
Medina picked up his first career win in relief, throwing 1 inning, allowing one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.