Chris Young pulled off a trick Saturday afternoon that neither Hisashi Iwakuma nor Felix Hernandez could accomplish over the two previous nights.
Young kept the Baltimore Orioles in the ballpark. No homers. Not much of anything, really, in seven shutout innings.
And Young did something else. He beat the Orioles.
The Mariners ended a four-game skid with a 4-3 victory at Safeco Field. It got a lot more tense at the end than it probably should have, but the Mariners, after finally scoring some runs, managed to hold on.
“Top to bottom,” Young said, “(the Orioles) can do a lot of damage. They’re either leading baseball or near the top in home runs. But it all comes down, again, to making quality pitches.
“It’s gratifying today given that we haven’t been playing good baseball. To contribute to a win, a much-needed win, was very important.”
Baltimore amped up the tension by scoring three two-out runs in the eighth inning against the Mariners’ bullpen. Two runs scored on an error by third baseman Kyle Seager.
But Fernando Rodney secured Young’s victory with a scoreless ninth for his 200th career save. The end came when David Lough broke too early from first on an attempted steal. Rodney threw to second for the out.
“I saw him behind my left shoulder,” Rodney said. “They’re trying to get somebody in scoring position to tie the game. I saw when he broke. I stepped off (the rubber). I got him.”
That play prompted Rodney’s celebratory arrow-shoot pantomime, and he admitted he targeted Lough: “At him. Too early.”
So it ended well.
“Maybe this is the way God wanted it,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “For Rodney to get his 200th (save), and He wanted me on the edge of my seat.”
Dustin Ackley keyed a seven-hit attack with a pair of doubles after getting moved to the No. 2 slot in the lineup when McClendon revised the batting order when Endy Chavez became a late scratch.
Ackley’s check-swing double fueled a three-run third inning and his leadoff double in the fifth preceded an RBI double from Robinson Cano. It wasn’t a lot; just enough.
“That (first) one was a pleasant surprise,” Ackley said. “We needed something like that. We needed some bleeders to fall to get us a sparked a little bit. Today might have been a big day for us.”
It was, if nothing else, a contrast to the two previous nights. The Mariners failed to score Thursday for Iwakuma in a 4-0 loss and forced Hernandez to settle for a no-decision Friday in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
Young (9-6) limited the Orioles to two hits, both by Delmon Young, and lowered his ERA to 3.04 before handing a four-run lead to Danny Farquhar to start the eighth.
Then it got interesting.
Farquhar retired the first two hitters but hit Adam Jones and walked Nelson Cruz, which brought Joe Beimel into the game for a lefty-lefty matchup against Chris Davis.
Beimel started with a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third. Davis then hit a grounder to third that scooted past Seager for a two-run error. Davis took second on the throw to the plate.
Yoervis Medina replaced Beimel and surrendered an RBI single to J.J. Hardy. That quickly, the lead was down to one run. Hardy’s single was the first hit of the inning.
Medina ended the inning, finally, by retiring Manny Machado on a sharp grounder to the mound.
Then it was on to Rodney, whose 200th save also boosted his American League-leading total to 28 (in 31 chances).
“I don’t know how I got 200 saves,” he said. “I just try to do my job every time I go out there. I got it today, and I’ll keep going.”
The Mariners spanked Baltimore starter Bud Norris (8-7) for three runs in the third inning after Jesus Sucre led off with a single to center. Sucre went to third on Ackley’s one-out double on a check-swing grounder past third.
That prompted an intentional walk to Cano.
Norris jumped ahead 1-2 on Kendrys Morales before throwing a slider that hit Morales even as he checked his swing. The Orioles argued for a strike, but third-base umpire Brian Knight ruled no swing.
The Mariners led, 1-0.
Seager followed with an RBI single to left.
Norris struck out Corey Hart before Logan Morrison sent a flare to left … and the carousel lurched. Cano scored easily, but third-base coach Rich Donnelly held Morales at third.
When Cruz misplayed the ball, Donnelly urged Morales toward the plate. Morales took a few steps before opting to return to third, which was a problem because Seager came steaming into the base.
Seager reversed course, but Machado took Cruz’s throw and tagged out Morales. It was, well, a mess ... but the Mariners had a 3-0 lead.
“We had a chance to really open it up,” McClendon said, “but we had some blunders on the basepaths. It was nice to play with a lead. We haven’t done that for a while.”