The Mariners muscled up with three homers Friday night and continued their postseason push with a 4-2 victory over the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field.
Logan Morrison broke a 2-2 tie with a homer in the fifth inning before Kendrys Morales stretched the lead to two runs in the sixth. Those came after Robinson Cano opened the scoring with a homer in the first inning.
That was enough.
Mariners starter James Paxton (6-2) handed that two-run lead to rookie reliever Carson Smith to start the seventh inning. Paxton gave up two runs, one earned, and four hits in six innings.
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Smith recorded five straight outs before issuing a two-out walk in the eighth. When the A’s sent up Adam Dunn as a pinch-hitter, the Mariners countered by bringing in Charlie Furbush for a left-on-left matchup.
Dunn flied out to left.
Fernando Rodney closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth inning for his major-league-leading 45th, which also matched the franchise record set by Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2001.
Rodney pumped some extra drama into the evening when he started the ninth by yielding singles to Brandon Moss and Sam Fuld, which put the tying runs on base with no outs and turned over the A’s lineup.
Then three straight outs and … arrow shoot.
By winning, the Mariners (80-66) pulled into a tie with Kansas City for the American League’s final wild-card spot. They trail Oakland (81-66) by one-half game for the top wild-card berth.
The Mariners also clinched the season series against the A’s, which could be a factor in tiebreaker scenarios.
Not a bad night.
The Mariners staked Paxton to a 2-0 lead by scoring single runs in the first two innings, but A’s pulled even by scoring single runs in the third and fourth.
Oakland starter Jason Hammel (2-6) had retired nine in a row before Morrison drove a 1-0 fastball into right-field seats with one out in the fifth inning for a 3-2 lead.
The A’s pulled Hammel for a pinch-hitter in the sixth (because the A’s surrendered their DH earlier in the game). Hammel gave up three runs and four hits in five innings.
Billy Burns lined a pinch single, for his first major-league hit, and stole second, but Paxton retired the next two hitters.
Eric O’Flaherty replaced Hammel to start the sixth and yielded a one-out single to Cano on a grounder into center.
Cano was thrown out attempting to steal, but Morales hit O’Flaherty’s next pitch over the right-center wall for a 4-2 lead.
That’s how it ended.
Cano’s two-out out liner to left field in the first inning had just enough carry to clear the wall for his 13th homer and a 1-0 lead. Six of those homers have been since Aug. 2.
Kyle Seager opened the second inning with a walk by working back from a 1-2 hole. Seager stole second when Michael Saunders swung through a pitch and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Geovany Soto.
Saunders took a third strike before the Mariners caught a break when third baseman Josh Donaldson couldn’t reach Mike Zunino high pop into short left field along the line.
Left fielder Jonny Gomes never got close to the ball, which fell for an RBI double. The Mariners led 2-0. Hammel avoided further problems when Morrison flied to left, and Brad Miller struck out.
Paxton worked himself into trouble with successive one-out walks in the third — and it bit him. Paxton got a borderline called strike on a 3-2 pitch to Gomes but yielded an RBI single to Donaldson.
That was the A’s first hit.
Another walk, to Derrick Norris, loaded the bases, but Paxton held the lead by striking out Jed Lowrie.
The A’s replaced Soto with Norris for the Mariners’ third inning, which meant they lost their designated hitter. Soto left the game because of back spasms.
Paxton found more trouble in the fourth when Nate Freiman led off with a single before Hammel, forced now to bat, tried for a sacrifice bunt. Seager fielded the ball from third, tried for the out at second and threw wildly.
The A’s had runners at first and second with no outs.
Seager followed that with a nice diving stop on a Nick Punto grounder and turning it into a force at second. The A’s pulled even on Sam Fuld’s bunt to second. No sacrifice credited.
Oakland put the go-ahead run in scoring position when Gomes opened the fifth a single to deep short and went to second when Miller bounced the throw past Morrison at first.
Paxton responded by retiring the next three hitters on a pop to second and two strikeouts.