The winless drought ended Wednesday night for lefty swingman Vidal Nuno. And it ended in a dominant performance.
Nuno limited Texas to one hit over seven shutout innings before the Mariners closed out a 6-0 victory at Safeco Field — and then tried to share as much credit as he could.
“Everyone contributed,” Nuno insisted. “We set the tone early. We got on the board in the first inning, and we just went on from there. “Steven (rookie catcher Steven Baron in his major-league debut) called a great game for me. We were connecting on every pitch and didn’t make any mistakes today.”
OK ... yes, the Mariners backed Nuno with a nine-hit attack that included big contributions from Kyle Seager and Mark Trumbo. Both had four hits, including a two-run homer.
But this night belonged to Nuno, who entered the game at 0-11 over his last 44 appearances — including 0-10 in 20 starts. His last victory was June 27, 2014, against Boston while pitching for the New York Yankees.
The drought covered all 17 of Nuno’s appearances (14 starts) at Arizona and his previous 26 outings (five starts) after coming to the Mariners in a June 3 trade.
“The pace of play when he pitches is exceptional,” said Trumbo, who arrived with Nuno in a June 3 trade with Arizona. “You love playing defense behind him. He throws strikes, and you have some really quick games.”
Not in the beginning. Nuno (1-2) was at 47 pitches through two innings, but he needed just 59 pitches over the next five innings. He finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts while walking two and permitting just one hit.
“I was telling Trent (Jewett, the bench coach) that we’ve got to find out who’s going to pitch the sixth,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “because he’s not going to last.
“You look up in the seventh, and he’s still going strong.”
That one hit was clean: Prince Fielder lined a two-out single into center in the first inning. Nuno set down the last 14 batters he faced.
“Seemed like he had all his pitches in play,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “He really utilized his secondary stuff. We knew that is where he would go and it looked like he had terrific movement.”
Danny Farquhar and Carson Smith completed the one-hit shutout.
Nuno attributed much of his success to tweak in his delivery, which he believes turned his changeup into a much more effective pitch.
“They didn’t see that on film,” he said. “It worked out. Everything clicked today.”
Although James Paxton is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the rotation Sunday, McClendon acknowledged it will be tough to send Nuno back to the bullpen as a long reliever after Wednesday’s performance.
“He is so valuable to this ballclub because of his ability to swing back and forth,” McClendon said. “To come out and do what he did tonight, you don’t expect him to be too sharp ...
“I highly doubt he’ll come out of the rotation right now.”
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the first inning against Texas starter Martin Perez on successive singles by Seager, Trumbo and Robinson Cano — but still needed a break to score.
Jesus Montero hit a room-service grounder to second baseman Rougned Odor, which should have been a double play. But Odor mishandled the ball, and the Rangers settled for a force at second as Seager scored.
The singles by Seager and Trumbo also extended hitting streaks. Seager is up to 12 games, while Trumbo matched a career high at 11 games. It was just the start for both.
Nuno held the lead by pitching around two walks in the Texas second, which was the only time the Rangers had more than one runner on base.
The Mariners pushed their lead to 3-0 in the third when, after Seager hit a one-out single into center, Trumbo sent a 408-foot shot to left for his 12th homer with the Mariners and his 21st overall.
Seager made it 5-0 in the fifth with another two-run homer after Ketel Marte drew a one-out walk. Seager’s homer was his 23rd of the year and came on a 1-2 changeup.
It was also his 11th homer of the season against a left-handed pitcher — the most in the league.
Perez (2-5) exited after starting the sixth inning by walking Brad Miller. By then, the Mariners led by five runs, and Nuno was cruising.
“That was special,” Seager said. “The way he threw the ball tonight, the way all of his pitches were working ... his tempo was great. He was awesome.”
And, finally, a winner.
THURSDAY: Texas (LHP Derek Holland: 3-1, 2.37 ERA) at Seattle (RHP Felix Hernandez: 16-8, 3.65),
12:40 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM