No style points for this one Friday night for the Mariners. Not that it matters, of course. But they will take this 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and move on.
The Mariners wasted numerous chances to break the game open by stranding 12 runners. They settled for small punches instead of landing the knockout blow. And they couldn’t put the Brewers away.
Not until the end.
Rookie closer Edwin Diaz, armed with a three-run lead, surrendered a two-run single to Ryan Braun with two outs in the ninth inning after walking the bases loaded.
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But Diaz and the Mariners escaped when he struck out Hernan Perez with runners at first and third.
"We got the win," Diaz said. "That’s the most important thing. I wasn’t very good. I think it’s something mechanical. Something small. At the end, though, I felt alive. We got the win."
It was like that all night.
Starter Wade LeBlanc gave up three homers in his 5 1/3 innings which turned a 1-0 lead into a tie and a 4-1 lead into 4-3.
"It’s getting frustrating giving up home runs every start," said LeBlanc, who has allowed eight homers in 22 1/3 innings over his last four starts.
"It seems like those are the only runs I’m giving up."
But the Mariners, as they have done repeatedly in recent weeks, turned to their bullpen, the Wolfpack, and it again delivered — if wheezingly so.
"I was hoping to have a little easier time of it at the end," manager Scott Servais said, "but our bullpen hung in there. Those guys have been taxed. There’s been a lot asked of them."
Drew Storen got the final two outs in the sixth inning. Arquimedes Caminero gave up a run in the seventh before Tom Wilhelmsen pitched around a one-out single in the eighth.
Then Diaz put the crowd of 37,758 through a Fernando Rodney-style thrill ride in the ninth inning before closing the Mariners’ 13th victory in 17 games.
"When he gets off to the start he got here," Servais said, "people forget he is human. He is not a robot. He not going to go out and strike them out every night and throw 100 miles an hour. Nobody does.
"We asked him tonight to get three outs, he got three outs before they scored three runs. That’s what we asked him to do. The next time he goes out there, he might not have that much leeway. He got through it."
Point to note: For all his problems, Diaz’s three outs in a 34-pitch ninth inning were all on strikeouts.
"I didn’t have my command with my fastball," he said. "I was dropping my arm a little bit. I need to work on that. I will come in early (on Saturday) to work on that.
"When I fix that, everything will be good again."
It’s not that the Mariners didn’t have plenty of production. They had 11 hits, including home runs by Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and Adam Lind. They built leads of 1-0, 4-1, 5-3 and 7-4.
"You can’t walk out of this thinking, `Oh, my God!’" Servais said. "No, we won the game."
LeBlanc (3-0) got the victory, while Diaz matched a franchise record by opening his career with nine straight successful saves. Byron McLaughlin had nine in a row in 1979.
It was 1-1 when Shawn O’Malley opened the fifth inning with a bunt single.
Milwaukee starter Brent Suter (0-1) blew an 84-mph fastball past Franklin Gutierrez, but Cano connected on an 82-mph slider for a two-run homer for a 3-1 lead.
Shortstop Orlando Arcia temporarily saved a run by knocking down Kyle Seager’s single with Nelson Cruz at second, but Stefen Romero followed by serving a flare into center for an RBI single that finished Suter.
But LeBlanc, as he did after the Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, began the next inning by allowing a leadoff homer. This time to Jonathan Villar.
Then LeBlanc gave up a homer to Keon Broxton, and the Mariners’ three-run lead, within three pitches, was down to 4-3. LeBlanc then struck out Ryan Braun before the Mariners summoned Storen.
"We got a pitcher up as quick as we could," Servais said. "For Wade, the third time through the lineup sometimes can be a little challenging. But he hung in there and gave us a chance to win.
"He’s been pretty consistent in doing that the whole time he’s been here."
The Mariners answered with an unearned run later in the inning after Arcia committed a throwing error on Ketel Marte’s leadoff grounder. Marte scored when left fielder Jake Elmore couldn’t hold Cruz’s two-out sinking liner.
Cruz was credited with an RBI single, and the Mariners led 5-3. The Mariners had a chance for more after loading the bases but Lind took a third strike from Tyler Cravy.
Again, Milwaukee responded, this time against Caminero after he retired the first two batters in the seventh. Villar singled, stole second and scored on Broxton’s single.
Then it was the Mariners’ turn.
Leonys Martin drew a one-out walk later in the seventh from Chase Anderson and stole second when Brewers chose not to cover the base.
Catcher Manny Pina came up throwing and appeared to hurt himself when he pulled the throw back. Marte then flicked an RBI double into left for a 6-4 lead.
Once more, the Mariners had the chance for a bigger inning after putting runners at first and third with one out but settled for the single run.
Lind’s two-out homer in the eighth made it 7-4.
The Mariners didn’t get their first hit until Seager launched an 0-1 curve into the right-field seats in the fourth inning. It was his 23rd homers of the season.
The lead didn’t last long.
Chris Carter crushed a full-count fastball — an 85-mph fastball from LeBlanc — for a leadoff homer in the fifth inning. The ball traveled 465 feet to dead center field.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Second baseman Robinson Cano made two snap tags for outs at second base on attempted steals. The first came in the fifth inning, with the score tied, when he reached back to get Domingo Santana.
The other was in the eighth, with the Mariners leading 6-4, when Cano made a catch-and-sweep tag to retire Chris Carter. The Mariners had to appeal to get that one. Umpire Jim Joyce initially called Carter safe.
PLUS: Kyle Seager’s homer in the fourth inning boosted his club-leading RBI total to 80. His career high was 96 in 2014…Robinson Cano’s 28 homers are tied for the third-highest total in his career. He had 33 in 2012, 29 in 2010 and 28 in 2011 (all with the New York Yankees)…Shawn O’Malley went 2-for-5 as the leadoff hitter and is batting .296 (21-for-71) over his last 22 games…Nelson Cruz is batting .370 (17-for-46) over his last 12 games after going 2-for-4…
MINUS: The Mariners matched a season high by stranding 12 runners. They also stranded 12 on May 13 in as 7-6 loss to the Angels at Safeco Field…Edwin Diaz has given up three runs, four hits and four walks over his last two one-inning outings. His ERA jumped from 1.64 to 2.31 as a result…Chris Iannetta was hitless in five at-bats.
STAT PACK: The Mariners have the best record in the American League since the All-Star break at 20-10.
QUOTABLE: "It’s a win," manager Scott Servais said. "A win is a win, and they’re hard to get in the big leagues. We had a late travel night getting in here. We didn’t take (batting practice) on the field
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners are 7-1 in Wade LeBlanc’s eight starts…the Mariners improved to 23-22 in one-run games…the Brewers have lost five in a row overall and six straight road games…the Mariners have won seven straight home games and are 24-11 at Safeco Field since May 30…Brent Suter is the first left-hander to start for Milwaukee since Tom Gorzelanny on Aug. 28, 2013. The Brewers promoted Suter from Triple-A Colorado Springs prior to the game to replace injured Junior Guerra in their rotation.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners