With Jean Segura back Wednesday from the disabled list, the Mariners finally had their preferred lineup intact once more. And for five-plus innings, it couldn’t have been more feeble.
Detroit veteran Justin Verlander was in top form and resembling the guy of whom Doug Mientkiewicz once said the only way to get a hit was by employing Jedi mind tricks.
Then everything changed.
The Mariners knocked out Verlander in a three-run sixth inning before pummeling the Tigers’ bullpen for four runs in the seventh. And, hey, that reconstituted lineup produced a 7-5 victory at Safeco Field.
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"That was a great win," said Nelson Cruz, who contributed two hits and three RBIs to the comeback. "The way (Verlander) was pitching, four runs looks like a lot."
It all started with a bunt.
Verlander retired the first 16 batters and had a 4-0 lead before Jarrod Dyson reached on a one-out bunt single in the sixth inning. He dragged it just beyond Verlander’s reach.
"I’m sure he didn’t like it," Dyson said. "But at the same time, he looked comfortable on the mound. He about blew our whole lineup away. So I tried to lay down a bunt and get him off the mound."
Suddenly the line started moving.
"That’s what Dyson does," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He uses his speed to get on base, and bunting for a base hit is one way to do it, and it certainly got them going."
Mike Zunino walked, and Jean Segura followed with a bloop single that loaded the bases. Ben Gamel’s single into center extended his hitting streak to 13 games and scored Dyson.
It was 4-1, with the bases still loaded.
Verlander struck out Robinson Cano, but Cruz flicked a two-run double into left that finished Verlander.
In came Shane Greene who, after an intentional walk to Kyle Seager that reloaded the bases, held the lead by retiring Danny Valencia on an infield pop.
Briefly held the lead.
Verlander’s final line, by the way, showed three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Not even, officially, a quality start. But don't be fooled. He also struck out 11 and walked one.
"That’s as good of a starter as we’ve seen all year," manager Scott Servais said. "Verlander was really on top of his game. The fastball had life, and he was landing the curveball whenever he wanted to."
The Mariners pulled even on Mitch Haniger’s leadoff homer in the seventh against Greene, which stuck Verlander with a no-decision.
It also meant a no-decision for James Paxton, who also pitched better than his line indicated at four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Mariners kept coming.
Segura drew a two-out walk and went to second when Gamel squirted a single past third. Cano then drove a double past center fielder Mike Mahtook to the wall that scored both runners for a 6-4 lead.
Alex Wilson replaced Greene, but Cruz lined an RBI single into center. It was 7-4. All four runs in the inning were changed to Greene (1-1), whose ERA jumped from 1.64 to 2.65.
"They just hit us," Ausmus said. "That sixth and seventh innings, they just hit us. They got hits, and they scored runs, seven runs in those two innings, and that was the ballgame."
Tony Zych (3-2) and Nick Vincent nursed the three-run lead into the ninth inning before Edwin Diaz, working for a fourth straight day, wobbled a bit before closing out the victory for his 12th save.
Diaz gave up a two-out homer to Ian Kinsler and a single to Nicholas Castellanos before retiring Miguel Cabrera on a fielder’s-choice grounder.
"That’s the first time Eddie has ever gone four days (in a row)," Servais said. "It was a little bit of a struggle. He’ll be down (Thursday), but it was a big win tonight."
It was the Mariners’ fourth straight victory and got them back to .500 at 37-37. They have been to .500 on three previous occasions but have yet to push their record into the black.
"When Dyson got on (against Verlander)," Cruz said, "we found a way to get it done after that. We were all talking about that we just needed someone to get on, and we can change the way he’s pitching.
"It was nice, also to have the whole lineup together."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Dyson’s bunt single changed the game. It made Verlander work from the stretch for the first time.
"Dyson made a great bunt," Servais said. "Once he got on, it gave our dugout a little energy. The at-bats continued, and we got a few pitches to hit. Everybody chipping in offensively tonight."
PLUS: Cruz’s three RBIs extended his American League-leading total to 58…Cano’s double was the 491st of his career, which ties Heinie Manush for 70th on MLB’s all-time list…Haniger had 10th multi-hit game of the season, and his third in 10 games since returning from the disabled list…Vincent pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He has not allowed a run in 26 of his last 27 appearances.
MINUS: Valencia is hitless in his last 10 at-bats after going 0-for-4…Zunino’s eight-game hitting streak ended when he went 0-for-3…Dyson committed a throwing error that fueled Detroit’s two-run sixth inning.
STAT PACK: The Mariners recorded their 14th comeback victory and their third after trailing by four or more runs.
QUOTABLE: Paxton was roughed up for 11 runs over 7 2/3 innings in his two previous starts, but he saw improvement after allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Tigers.
"It was better," he said. "It was not the results that I wanted, but it was a definite step in the right direction."
SHORT HOPS: Verlander recorded his 39th career game with 10 or strikeouts. Five has come in his 22 career starts against the Mariners…the Mariners are 16-8 in their last 24 games. They are also 23-13 at home and have won six straight home games against Detroit…Gamel went 2-for-4 and is batting ..463 (25-for-54) in his 13-game hitting streak. His overall average is up to .354…Segura went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game since June 1…the Tigers have lost a season-high five straight games.
ON DECK: The Mariners and Tigers conclude their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Thursday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Andrew Moore (3-1 with a 3.19 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma) will make his major-league debut in a matchup against Detroit left-hander Daniel Norris (4-4, 4.42).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners