It seems strange — doesn’t it? — that the Mariners’ formula for beating the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field starts with serving up a three-run homer to Mike Trout in the first inning.
Whatever works, though. And right now, after a miserable late August collapse, the Mariners need anything that works.
So Ariel Miranda surrendered Trout’s homer and, on cue, the Mariners stormed back by scoring nine runs in the second inning and then held on for an 11-8 victory in front of a Girls Night Out crowd.
"We’re going to smile about it," manager Scott Servais said. "A really good night by our offense. They strung some hits together there at the end, but we got the win. We needed a win. We’ll build on that one."
Trout has three-run homers in the first inning in three of his last four games at Safeco Field. Each time, the Mariners rallied to win. (They won the other game, too.)
Dae-Ho Lee started that nine-run explosion with a leadoff single against LA starter Brett Oberholtzer (1-1) and added a two-run single later in the inning against reliever Jhoulys Chacin.
Ketel Marte also contributed two hits in the party — an RBI single against Oberholtzer that provided the inning’s first run and a two-run single against Chacin that capped the outburst.
The victory snapped a five-game skid and enabled the Mariners to remain four games behind Baltimore and Detroit in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. They have 26 games remaining.
Miranda (2-1) recovered from a disastrous four-run first inning by allowing nothing more before handing a six-run lead to the bullpen in the seventh inning.
"I think the difference was a little more focus and a little more aggressiveness on the first pitches," he said. "I didn’t think four runs were enough to lose the game, so I just wanted to stay in there."
Nick Vincent worked a one-two-three seventh, and Evan Scribner, in his season debut, did the same in the eighth. Scribner was activated Thursday from the disabled list after suffering a torn back muscle in spring training.
Then it got interesting.
Arquimedes Caminero gave up four runs in the ninth inning before Edwin Diaz got the final out for his 12th save by retiring Trout on a fly to deep center with two runners on base.
For one heart-stopping moment, it appeared Trout might have tied the game with yet another three-run homer. But Leonys Martin waved his arms, signaling that he had a play on the ball.
"Finally, we got that last out," Martin said. "This game is tough. But you’ve got to crush the ball to go out deep there. It’s not simple. I know he can do it, but it’s not simple."
So the Mariners survived.
"We kept playing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You’re always trying to get the closer up and get him in the game if you can, we accomplished that.
"You know he made a 3-2 slider to Mike that Mike just missed tying the game…We came back from a large deficit and made those guys earn it."
The rocky ending mirrored the start.
Yunel Escobar opened the game by battling his way to a 10-pitch walk against Miranda, who then yielded a single to Kole Calhoun on a 1-2 pitch.
Trout launched his three-run homer. He victimized Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker on Aug. 5-6 before the Mariners rallied for 6-4 and 8-6 victories.
"He’s a great player," Servais said. "No doubt. But we’ve got to do a better job, obviously. You can’t give them a three-spot, or a four-spot tonight. Not many times are you going to come back from that."
Miranda retired the next two hitters before Jefry Marte crushed a 1-2 pitch for a line-drive homer to left field for a 4-0 lead.
The Mariners answered. Tentatively at first.
Ben Gamel walked in his first plate appearance as a Mariner and came all the way around — and easily — on Guillermo Heredia’s double into the left-field corner.
The Mariners then unloaded against Oberholtzer and Chacin in the second inning. First, they loaded the bases with no outs on a single and two walks before Marte flicked an RBI single into right that finished Oberholtzer.
In came Chacin, who forced in a run by walking Gamel before Heredia’s hard grounder to third turned into two runs and a 5-4 lead.
Escobar corralled the grounder and got a force at second as Mike Zunino scored the tying run. Second baseman Gregorio Petit then made a wild throw to first that permitted Marte to score.
All five runs were charged to Oberholtzer.
The Mariners weren’t done.
They reloaded the bases with two outs on a single and an intentional walk for Lee, who delivered his second single of the inning. This one scored two runs for a 7-4 lead.
Another walk reloaded the bases before Zunino grounded an RBI single through the left side. Marte then drove a two-run single to right, and it was 10-4.
The nine-run inning matched a season best. The Mariners scored nine runs in the seventh inning on June 2 in a 16-13 victory at San Diego. That was the game where they overcame a 12-2 deficit.
It stayed 10-4 until the eighth inning, when Nelson Cruz, back in the lineup after missing two games because of a sore hand, led off with a homer, his 33rd, against Deolis Guerra.
That sent the Mariners to the ninth inning with a seven-run cushion.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners led 10-4 when Gregorio Petit tried to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the fifth inning. So it wasn’t a key play in the game.
But Guillermo Heredia’s on-target throw from left field is the kind of defense the Mariners haven’t often received this year from their outfield corners.
Umpire Alfonso Marquez called Petit safe, and it was close, but the Mariners challenged, and a replay review overturned the call.
It was Heredia’s second career assist. His other one came Aug. 6 against the Angels at Safeco when he double-upped Johnny Giavotella at first base.
PLUS: Dae-Ho Lee went 3-for-5 and is 8-for-14 since snapping a 0-for-18 skid…Robinson Cano has hits in 15 of his 17 games and multiple hits in nine of them…reliever Evan Scribner made his season debut by working a one-two-three inning on 12 pitches…Ketel Marte had two hit sand three RBIs in the nine-run second inning.
MINUS: Mike Trout has six homers this season in 14 games against the Mariners. He has 20 in 118 games against everyone else…third baseman Kyle Seager’s two-out error in the ninth inning led to three unearned runs…reliever Arquimedes Caminero has allowed 13 runs in his last 8 2/3 innings, although six of those runs are unearned.
STAT PACK: Right fielder Ben Gamel and reliever Evan Scribner were the 52nd and 53rd players used this season by the Mariners, which is a franchise record. The previous record was 51 in 1999 and last year.
QUOTABLE: First baseman Dae-Ho Lee is sporting a new perm as his hairstyle. Asked about it, he said: "Don’t I look like my teammates?"
SHORT HOPS: Jesus Sucre’s wife, Beriuska, have birth Friday night to a 6-pound, 6-ounce girl they named Samara. Sucre reported his wife and new daughter were doing fine…the Mariners hit double figures in runs for the 10th time…Nelson Cruz has 34 career homers against the Angels, his highest total against any opponent…Mike Zunino snapped a 0-for-20 skid with an RBI single in the nine-run second inning.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners