SEATTLE — OK, now, this is the type of victory that makes you wonder whether it might be a special summer in the Northwest.
The Mariners spit back two leads Wednesday afternoon, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning, another threat in the 11th and, somehow, still managed to complete a three-game sweep over Tampa Bay at Safeco Field.
Chris Iannetta’s leadoff homer produced a remarkable 6-5 victory in the 11th inning. He crushed a full-count fastball from Steve Geltz for a 410-foot drive that cleared the center-field wall.
"Ideally, you don’t want to go to center field here," Iannetta said, "but I’ll take it. If it didn’t (go out), I would have been really disappointed."
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The Mariners mobbed Iannetta at the plate. It was the seventh walk-off hit of his career and fifth walk-off homer. It was his first in either category for this season.
And it rescued the Mariners from what would have been a stinging loss.
"This team has that confidence that it can come back," said reliever Nick Vincent, who surrendered a game-tying homer in the ninth inning to Kevin Kiermaier.
"Any swing of the bat can end the game. It’s the first time in my career I’ve (been with) hitters who two through seven can hit a homer to end the game."
The Mariners won for the 19th time in 26 games and, at 21-13, maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Texas in the American League West Division.
"We have something special going on," manager Scott Servais said, "and everyone is a part of it. I looked at Robby (Cano in the 11th inning) and said, `Someone’s got to win this game. It might as well be us. Why not?’
"Chris puts a great swing on the ball, and (Cano) looks over at me and says, `It might be us. Why not us?’"
Iannetta’s homer punctuated a victory in which the Mariners lived on the edge in extra innings after earlier throwing away two leads.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with one out in the 10th inning before Johnson, promoted last week from Triple-A Tacoma, induced a foul pop and a fielder’s-choice grounder.
Johnson (1-0) then worked around a first-and-second jam with one out in the 11th inning before gaining his first big-league victory in 1,078 days when Iannetta walked it off.
"It’s a nice loose clubhouse," Johnson said. "You play every game and expect to win. It doesn’t matter if someone ties the game or what. We have the confidence that we’re going to pull it off."
Even so, it didn’t need to be this hard; the Mariners let two leads slip away.
Taijuan Walker squandered a four-run lead in the sixth inning when he gave up a grand slam to Corey Dickerson, and the Mariners were two outs from victory when Vincent served up Kiermaier’s homer.
"Bad pitch," Vincent said. "It’s a 2-0 count, and the hitter’s in swing mode. If I miss, I probably should have missed out. But I’m not trying to go 3-0. That pitch, that cutter, went right into his bat."
The Mariners turned to Vincent in the ninth after using closer Steve Cishek for a four-out save in Tuesday’s 6-4 victory.
"Going into the game," Servais said, "we knew if it was tight late, we were going to try to stay away from Cishek and (Joel) Peralta."
Walker entered the sixth inning with a two-hit shutout, eight strikeouts and a four-run lead. He had retired 11 in a row when Curt Casali led off with a pop to second.
Then it all fell apart.
Brandon Guyer bounced a double over the right-field wall. Walker then loaded the bases by walking former teammate Brad Miller and Evan Longoria.
Miller worked through seven pitches, while Longoria saw nine.
Dickerson then jumped a first-pitch curve for a grand slam to center.
"The two walks really (hurt)," Walker said. "It wasn’t a bad pitch to Dickerson. I threw a lot of first-pitch curveballs early in the game, and it seemed like he was sitting on it a little bit."
All of that came after the Mariners built a 4-0 lead against Rays ace Chris Archer. Three runs came in the first, highlighted by Seth Smith’s two-run single. Nelson Cruz added a leadoff homer in the third.
After Dickerson’s slam tied the game, the Mariners regained the lead in the seventh inning when Robinson Cano, after a leadoff double, scored on Cruz’s sacrifice fly against ex-Mariner Erasmo Ramirez.
That wasn’t enough. Kiermaier tied it in the ninth, but that was mere prelude for the bullpen’s latest show of moxie before Iannetta took his turn in the blue-magic spotlight.
"Honestly, it’s the way it should be," Iannetta said. "If you lean on a couple of guys, you get one-dimensional. We know we can win with any guy in our lineup."
PLAY OF THE GAME: How can it be anything but Chris Iannetta’s walk-off homer?
PLUS: The Mariners completed their second sweep of the season and their second in the last three series. They are also 7-0-1 in their last eight series…Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double in the seventh inning…Steve Johnson got his first big-league victory since May 13, 2013, which came while pitching for Baltimore against Washington…Nori Aoki went 2-for-4 with a walk and is batting .310 (13-for-42) over his last 11 games…reliever Mike Montgomery pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings against his former club and lowered his ERA to 2.41.
MINUS: Cano is 0-for-16 in his career against Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer after going hitless in three at-bats…Taijuan Walker gave up the first grand slam of his career on Corey Dickerson’s game-tying blast in the sixth inning…Kyle Seager’s hitting streak ended at 11 games when he went 0-for-4. He batted .409 (18-for-44) in the 11-game run.
STAT PACK: Seager was 0-for-13 in his career against Archer when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning. Seager just missed a homer in his next plate appearance when the ball hooked foul at the right-field line before he popped out.
QUOTABLE: "I will say," manager Scott Servais observed, "getting sunburned in May at Safeco Field and then winning a game in extra innings is a pretty good day."
SHORT HOPS: The attendance was an even 23,000…the Mariners are 5-1 in extra-inning games. They are 8-5 in one-run games with seven straight victories…the Mariners gave up just two hits in 18 Tampa Bay at-bats with runners in scoring position in the three-game series…it was the Mariners’ longest game of the year at 4 hours, 1 minute…the Mariners have seven victories when they scored the winning run in their last at-bat. That includes two walk-off victories.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners