Ryan Casteel’s booming grand slam highlighted a seven-run ninth inning Friday afternoon that carried a Mariners split-squad to a 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.
The Mariners trailed 5-2 entering the inning after Arizona scored three two-out runs in the eighth against Andrew Moore.
Reliever Yuhei Nakaushiro provided the Mariners with an opportunity by issuing three straight one-out walks. Casteel then launched a rocket deep to center field for a 6-5 lead.
The Mariners weren’t done. When Nevin Ashley followed with a single, Arizona replaced Nakaushiro with Gabriel Moya, but the Mariners scored three more runs.
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Dan Altavilla closed out the victory with a one-two-three inning.
"Our `B’ squad picked us up offensively," manager Scott Servais said. "Obviously, the walks helped a little bit. Then the bomb. That was a bomb by Casteel. That’s about as far as you can hit one. Good for those guys."
Casteel, 25, was one of 14 players summoned from minor-league camp for the game against Arizona. He was signed last July as a minor-league free agent and batted .243 with three homers in 50 games at Double-A Jackson.
The Mariners (14-8) completed a split-squad sweep Friday night with a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.
Tyler O’Neill, Leonys Martin and Danny Valencia hit home runs against Clayton Kershaw as the Mariners overcame an early 2-0 deficit. Max Povse pitched four scoreless innings after replacing starter Ariel Miranda.
The game against Arizona was 2-2 until two outs in the eighth inning when Moore surrendered a tie-breaking single to Ronnie Freeman, who went to third when Kevin Medrano’s double hopped the left-center wall.
Both runners scored when Jake Goebbert grounded a two-run single to right, but the three-run lead wasn’t enough.
Mariners right-hander Yovani Gallardo pitched for the first time since returning from the World Baseball Classic. He threw 70 pitches while giving up two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Jarrod Dyson opened the game by working back from an 0-2 hole for a walk, and he ambled home at the speed of Cruz when Kyle Seager drove a one-out double into the right-center gap.
Ian Miller replaced Dyson as the center fielder when Arizona came to bat later in the first inning. The official explanation: Just a short day for Dyson.
Arizona tied the game in the first after second baseman Mike Freeman and first baseman Dan Vogelbach failed to handle grounders, but a sparkling double play by shortstop Taylor Motter limited the damage to one run.
Gallardo got two quick outs in the third inning before finding turbulence. Two singles, a steal, an error and a walk produced one run and loaded the bases before Gallardo retired Ildemaro Vargas on a fly to left.
The Mariners pulled even in the sixth on Tuffy Gosewisch’s RBI grounder.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Motter made a diving stop on David Peralta’s sharp grounder up the middle in the first inning with runners on first and third and no outs. Motter got to his feet, tagged second and threw to first for a double play.
PLUS: Evan Scribner got the final two outs in the fifth inning on five pitches after replacing Gallardo…Altavilla made quick work of the Diamondbacks in the ninth inning.
MINUS: Ben Gamel started in right field and struck out in each of his three at-bats…Moore’s line looks worse than he probably deserved, but he still gave up three runs in three innings.
STAT PACK: The Mariners finished with 13 hits but only Ashley had more than one.
SPRING BATTLES: Freeman temporarily avoided his sixth spring error when his misplay on Gregor Blanco’s leadoff grounder in the first inning was inexplicably scored a single. Freeman wasn’t so lucky in the third inning when he booted Peralta’s two-out grounder…Motter was 1-for-3 and had that sparkling play in the field…outfielder Guillermo Heredia had a single and two walks in three plate appearances. He is batting .441 with a .500 on-base percentage.
QUOTABLE: "It felt good," Gallardo said. "We were moving the ball around pretty good. I was mixing in all of my pitches. I was able to get some weak contact. That’s always a positive sign. It’s what you want to see."
SHORT HOPS: Jarrod Dyson opened the game by working back from an 0-2 hole for a walk, and he ambled home at the speed of Cruz when Kyle Seager drove a one-out double into the right-center gap.
Ian Miller replaced Dyson as the center fielder when Arizona came to bat later in the first inning.
"He came in today and said he was a little tight," Servais said, "but he wanted to play today. That’s a new player to us, and me getting to know him. I said, `Hey, we can scratch you.’ He said, `No, no, I want to play.’
"He drives over here, and I talked to him before the game. `No, I’m good, Skip.’ Obviously, he wasn’t. Next time he tells me he’s good, we’ll pause for a second. No heroes on March 17."
UP NEXT: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is seeking a bounce-back performance in a scheduled four-inning start when the Mariners play San Francisco at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Peoria Stadium.
Iwakuma gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings in his previous start against Milwaukee. Had it been a regular-season game, it would have been the worst start of his career.
Relievers Nick Vincent and James Pazos are also scheduled to pitch. San Francisco has not yet identified its starting pitcher.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and mariners.com.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 16
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners