SEATTLE — Another night and still more shutdown pitching Tuesday as the Mariners continued their August surge with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field.
This makes a club-record 11 straight games in which the Mariners held their opponents to three or fewer runs — although, yes, it got a little tense in the eighth inning.
And something more.
Kendrys Morales showed the first faint signs that, just maybe, he is poised to shake his extended slump. He contributed a homer and a double, which led to a run, to an eight-hit attack.
“I’ve just been trying to get comfortable at the plate,” said Morales, who had just 10 hits in 61 previous at-bats since rejoining the Mariners from Minnesota in a July 24 trade.
“I want to produce because the team needs it, but I haven’t been putting any extra pressure on myself.”
Finally, though, here was some validation for the view coming in recent days from manager Lloyd McClendon, i.e., that Morales was on the verge of recapturing his form.
“(Results) haven’t (been there),” McClendon said, “but they came tonight, and that was a good thing to see. He and HoJo (hitting coach Howard Johnson) have been working extremely hard. Tonight, it paid off.”
The Mariners also got a homer from Kyle Seager for a 2-1 lead in the fourth, and a big two-run, two-out single in the fifth from Dustin Ackley. Logan Morrison had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Most of the damage came against Toronto starter J.A. Happ, who fell to 8-7 after allowing five runs in six innings. The Mariners also scored two runs on errors.
“The big hit was Ackley,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, “putting them up (4-1) with two outs. You know, (Happ) wasn’t bad; he just wasn’t good enough.”
When Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless ninth for his 34th save, the Mariners had their seventh victory in eight games in a nine-game homestand that concludes Wednesday night against the Blue Jays.
“We’re putting up runs,” Ackley said, “and the pitching is doing what they usually do. You see what happens when we’re able to score for them. We’re going to win games.
“If we can do that for the next month or so, we’re going to be where we need to be.”
The Mariners also matched a season best in moving to nine games over .500 at 64-55 and pulled into a virtual tie with Detroit (63-54) for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
“I think we all believe that we haven’t played our best baseball,” said Chris Young, who held the Jays to one run in six innings. “That we’re going to try to keep getting better and better. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.”
Young (11-6) gave up one run just two batters into the game but nothing more before handing a 5-1 lead to Charlie Furbush to start the seventh inning.
Furbush got the game into the eighth before yielding to Brandon Maurer with one out and none on. And things got interesting.
Maurer yielded soft singles to Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera before Jose Bautista lined a hard RBI double into the left-field corner. That put runners at second and third and brought the tying run to the plate.
It also brought Joe Beimel into the game for a left-on-left match-up against Adam Lind — until the Blue Jays countered by sending up Nolan Reimold. A sacrifice fly trimmed the lead to 5-3 and moved Bautista to third.
But Beimel ended the inning by retiring Dioner Navarro on a pop to short.
The Mariners, after getting a two-out double Morales, countered with a gift run in their eighth when Toronto reliever Aaron Loup failed to hold a two-out throw at first base.
“You can’t afford to give extra outs,” Gibbons said. “They’re playing good baseball over there. They’re on a roll, and they’re pretty good.”
Then it was on to Rodney in the ninth. The game ended with Ackley making a twisting and leaping catch on Munenori Kawasaki’s drive with a runner at first.
“It was one of those where you don’t really know which way to turn,” Ackley said, “because it’s straight over you head. I turned around and just started running.
“At the last second, I knew I had to spin the other way. I jumped up, and it was there…So it worked out pretty good.”