CLEVELAND — Again Tuesday night, for a club-record 13th game in a row, the Seattle Mariners failed to score more than three runs.
This time, it didn’t hurt them.
The Mariners rode another effective start from Roenis Elias and some fine bullpen work in holding on for a 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
As for that four-run barrier: There were some signs of offensive life. Robinson Cano, a long-time doubles machine, broke a 20-game drought with a pair of doubles.
“I would say tonight was luck,” he said. “I finally hit it where they weren’t playing. I wish I could continue getting that luck more often.”
Logan Morrison extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games, and Seth Smith had a key RBI single with a runner in scoring position. For all that, the Mariners made this tougher than it should have been.
There’s also concern regarding Nelson Cruz, who left the game (VIDEO LINK) in the the fifth inning after experiencing back spasms on back-to-back swings.
“I was told he’s OK,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He had some tightness in his back. He got some treatment on it. It feels much better. It loosened up. We’ll see how he feel tomorrow.
“Right now, it’s just day to day. There’s nothing too serious.”
The short-term bottom line was a victory in the start to an eight-game trip after a disastrous 2-9 homestand. Both victories in that 11-game shambles were by a 2-1 score.
Elias (3-3) exited after six innings (VIDEO LINK) and 84 pitches. He allowed one run — Yan Gomes’ first homer — and five hits while striking out three and walking two.
It marked the 16th in Elias’ last 19 starts that he permitted two or fewer earned runs. Still, he wasn’t as sharp as his line suggests. He often pitched behind in the count.
“My command was not very good today,” Elias said, “but I went out to compete. The last time I pitched against Cleveland, they scored four runs. My goal was that wouldn’t happen again.”
Elias turned over a one-run lead to Tom Wilhelmsen, who got two outs on four pitches before the Mariners again went to the bullpen. Vidal Nuno gave up a single to Jason Kipnis before retiring Carlos Santana on a pop.
It was 3-1 when Charlie Furbush worked a one-two-three eighth.
Carson Smith closed out the victory in Fernando Rodney fashion. He gave up a run — another Gomes leadoff homer — and a one-out single to Michael Bourn before retiring the side.
“The ninth inning is definitely different,” said Smith, who got his second save since replacing an ineffective Rodney as the club’s preferred closer.
“I made a bad pitch to Gomes, and he did what he’s supposed to do with it. I’ve got to get that ball down. After that, a bloop single, a couple of ground balls and a fly out.”
And a victory.
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (3-7) gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He scrambled at times, though.
The Mariners left five runners in the first three innings and wasted a bases-loaded threat with one out in the fifth.
But they scored an insurance run after Nick Hagadon started the eighth with a four-pitch walk to Dustin Ackley, who entered as Cruz’s replacement in the fifth inning.
Ackley went to third on Kyle Seager’s double into the right-field corner before Seth Smith lashed an RBI single to right for a 3-1 lead. That prompted a pitching change to Zach McAllister, who squelched the rally.
Mark Trumbo lined out, and Brad Miller grounded into a double play.
Morrison opened the game by serving Kluber’s first pitch into left field for a single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games.
Shortstop Mike Aviles bobbled Austin Jackson’s grounder to short, which forced the Indians to settle for a force at second instead getting a double play.
And that meant Cano’s double to left, (VIDEO LINK) which eluded a diving Ryan Raburn, produced a run. Jackson scored from first for a 1-0 lead. Jackson chose to score standing up — and did so just ahead of Gomes’ tag.
Would a slide have been better?
“If I score,” Jackson said, “I don’t care. As long as I cross, I’m safe.”
McClendon joked that he fainted as the throw came to the plate.
“With all of the things that we’ve kicked ourselves with,” McClendon said, “that’s the last thing we needed — a double off the left-center-field wall and Austin not to score.”
But Jackson did score. And the Mariners did win when Smith held the lead for Elias. Next step: Score four or more runs.