There are rare occasions when reality tops anything imagined fiction can conjure up.
Veteran catcher Chooch Ruiz, a long-time Phillies favorite, delivered a three-run double Wednesday in a five-run seventh inning that carried the Mariners an 11-6 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
It’s uncertain, of course, but Ruiz is 38, and it’s possible this was his final game in a city where he was a key member of clubs that reached postseason in five straight years from 2007-11 and won the 2008 World Series.
If so, he went out in style.
"I feel like I’m struggling swinging the bat," Ruiz said, "but they gave me a chance with the bases loaded and I told myself, `You have to do something.’
"I tried to get myself ready to hit and relax at the same time and, finally, I got a big double. That was huge and I feel much better."
The victory enabled the Mariners to sweep the two-game series and, for the first time since the season started, pull their record back to .500 at 17-17. They have won four in a row and six of their last seven.
"It’s a day at a time," manager Scott Servais said. "That’s how I looked at it a couple of weeks ago. If you start saying, `Oh, we’ve got to win seven out of 10’ or something like that, it gets too confusing.
"You just focus on today’s game."
The Mariners finished with 16 hits, including four from Robinson Cano, who wasn’t certain to play after exiting Tuesday’s game because of a strained right quadriceps muscle.
"He was swinging the bat really well (Tuesday)," Servais said, "and I think that’s why he was going to figure out a way to get in there even if he wasn’t 100 percent. It’s Robby Cano. When he’s right, he’s as good as it gets."
Danny Valencia also had four hits, including a tie-breaking RBI double in the seventh inning prior to Ruiz’s big double. Valencia also ignited a three-run eighth inning with a homer.
Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia each had two hits. Every Mariners starter reached base at least once.
"We’re swinging at our pitches," Cano said. "It’s everyone in here. That’s what makes it even better. We weren’t chasing their pitches. And in this ballpark, you don’t have to really hit it. Just make good contact."
The Mariners got just three hits in their five-run seventh and much of the damage came against an ex-teammate: veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, who inherited a 3-3 tie when he replaced Phillies starter Zach Eflin.
After Cano led off with a single, Benoit then walked Kyle Seager before Valencia lashed an RBI double into the right-field corner for a 4-3 lead.
Right-handed hitters were 0-for-20 this season against Benoit before Valencia’s double.
After the runners held at second and third on Guillermo Heredia’s pop to short left, the Phillies opted for an intentional walk to Jarrod Dyson, which loaded the bases for Ruiz.
Chooch lined a three-run double into the left-center gap.
"I felt like my legs were not on the ground," he said. "It was real special. That was huge for my team and also to see the ovation from the fans who supported me.
"I say `thank you’ to them because they were really good to me while I was here. I’m so happy they did that and, at same time, happy that we got a ‘W.’"
When Benoit (0-2) then walked pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz, the Phillies went to their bullpen for Edubray Ramos, who retired Jean Segura before walking two more hitters.
That forced in another run and made it 8-3 before Ramos ended the inning by striking out Seager. All five runs were charged to Benoit.
Valencia’s leadoff homer in eighth against Jake Thompson ignited another three-run burst.
Mark Rzepczynski pitched a scoreless seventh. Dan Altavilla gave up one run in a shaky eighth. Dillon Overton was even shakier in the ninth, allowing two homers, before he closed out a victory for Tony Zych.
Zych (2-0) pitched a scoreless sixth inning after replacing starter Yovani Gallardo, who squandered an early three-run lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME: How do you top Ruiz’s three-run double? It blew open the game by turning a one-run lead into a 7-3 advantage.
PLUS: Cano had a season-high four hits (in five at-bats), including a two-run homer in the third inning. He raised his average to .296 and has seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 21 games…Gamel was 2-for-4 with two walks and has reached base safely in all 13 games since his recall from Triple-A Tacoma. He is batting .373…Valencia went 4-for-6 and raised his average to .243.
MINUS: Gallardo failed to hold a lead of three or more runs for the third time in seven starts…Altavilla and Overton struggled to close out a blowout victory…Jean Segura’s streak of multi-hit games ended at six when he went 1-for-6.
STAT PACK: Phillies left fielder Aaron Altherr hit two homers. His first was a three run shot in the third inning against Gallardo that erased the Mariners’ early 3-0 lead. Altherr has three-run homers in three straight games. The last Phillies player to do that was Mike Schmidt in 1981.
QUOTABLE: Cruz grumbled good-naturedly at being forced to serve as a pinch-hitter over the last two games while the Mariners produced 21 runs and 32 hits. A sore left hamstring prevented him from playing right field.
"I was telling Scott (Servais) that I need be in there," he said. "He cost me five RBIs today."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners had 16 hits and have reached double figures in six of their last seven games…the Mariners are 4-1 this season in interleague play…the Mariners are 17-8 in interleague games under Servais…the Mariners hold a 10-4 edge in their all-time series against the Phillies.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners