And the Mariners fight on.
Logan Morrison’s three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night lifted the Mariners to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels and, just maybe, saved their postseason aspirations.
Morrison’s blast rescued the Mariners on a night when they appeared ready to squander a gift-wrapped opportunity. The Angels, one night after clinching the division crown, sent out a lineup of backups and call-ups.
But the Mariners couldn’t do anything against journeyman lefty Wade LeBlanc or the Angels’ bullpen until they stirred to life with two outs in the ninth inning against Kevin Jepsen.
First, Kendrys Morales poked a single to left. Pinch-runner James Jones took second on a wild pickoff throw, which then prompted an intentional walk to Kyle Seager.
Morrison then unloaded against Jepsen (0-2), and the Mariners led 3-0.
Fernando Rodney yielded a one-out homer in the ninth to Hank Conger but closed out the victory for his 46th save, which set a Mariners’ record.
The late heroics came too late to reward Felix Hernandez for a dominant start against a patchwork lineup. He worked seven shutout innings while allowing three hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts.
It was only enough to keep the Mariners even.
The Angels nearly broke through as soon as Hernandez exited.
Charlie Furbush began the eighth inning, after replacing Hernandez, by surrendering a single to Shawn O’Malley through the left side of the infield. Furbush struck out Tony Campana, who bunted through an 0-2 pitch.
The Mariners then summoned Tom Wilhelmsen, who struck out Gordon Beckham before O’Malley stole second. That prompted an intentional walk to Brennan Boesch, who had two of the three hits against Hernandez.
A walk to C.J. Cron loaded the bases, but Wilhelmsen (3-2) retired Efren Navarro on a fly to center.
The victory boosted the Mariners to 82-70 and pulled them to within one game of fast-fading Oakland for the American League’s final wild-card spot with 10 games remaining.
The Mariners seemingly caught a break when the Angels, their division title in hand, chose to begin aligning their postseason rotation. Specifically, they shifted from staff ace Jered Weaver to LeBlanc.
LeBlanc limited the Mariners to three singles in 5 1/3 innings before the Angels went to the bullpen for Joe Thatcher with a runner on first,
Thatcher’s first pitch hit Dustin Ackley in the back, which moves Chris Taylor to second base. But Thatcher ended the threat by getting Robinson Cano to ground into a double play.
The Angels got their first runner into scoring position later in the inning when Boesch grounded a two-out single into center and stole second. Hernandez then struck out Cron.