The Boomstick came to life Monday afternoon as the Mariners ended a three-game skid with a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.
Nelson Cruz erased a one-run deficit with a three-run homer in the sixth inning, and Adam Lind followed with a solo shot. Tony Zych and Donn Roach protected the lead with four scoreless innings.
“It was nice to see that from Nelson Cruz,” manager Scott Servais said. “Those were probably the best swings he’s taken all spring.”
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma went 4 1/3 innings in his fourth spring start and, except for facing designated hitter Justin Turner, things went fairly well. Turner, however, was a constant thorn.
Turner hit a two-out homer in the first inning, had a game-tying RBI double with two outs in the third inning and knocked out Iwakuma with a one-out RBI double in the fifth that gave LA a brief 3-2 lead.
“Good at-bats,” Iwakuma said. “He made me pay. The home run was a curveball down in the zone. I thought it was a good pitch, but he stayed on it.
“The second and third at-bats, the ball was up. Those two pitches, I could have executed better. But he still put a good swing on it.”
The Mariners (10-11-2) jumped to a 2-0 lead on the first inning against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, an Iwakuma friend in his first major-league season after eight seasons in Japan.
Ketel Marte led off with a double and took third when Luis Sardinas singled and went to second on the throw home. Robinson Cano’s sharp single to right scored both runners.
Marte also started the four-run sixth with a walk, and Sardinas followed with a single. A double steal put the runners at second and third before Cruz’s homer.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Lind made a backhand stop on Chase Utley’s hard two-out grounder up the first-base line and turned it into an out.
Second choice: Second baseman Cano turned a short hop up the middle into an inning-ending double play in the second. He flipped the ball to Marte, who got the force at second and threw to first.
PLUS: Reliever Tony Zych pitched a brisk shutdown inning in the sixth after the Mariners took the lead. Zych struck out the first two batters and retired the third on a grounder to first. … Sardinas played seven innings in center field and contributed to both run-scoring innings with singles. … Right-hander Donn Roach continued his long-shot bid for a bullpen job by pitching three scoreless innings. That makes eight scoreless innings in his last three appearances.
MINUS: Mike Montgomery replaced Hisashi Iwakuma to face Adrian Gonzalez in a left-on-left matchup with one out and a runner at second in the fifth — and walked Gonzalez on five pitches. Montgomery recovered by retiring the next two batters. … Catcher Steve Clevenger went hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts. … Stefen Romero returned after missing four days because of a back spasm and went 0-for-3.
STAT PACK: The Mariners’ updated scorecard on their defensive shifts is a plus-16 entering Monday’s game at 23-7 (worked/didn’t work). Servais updates the count after every game.
QUOTABLE: Iwakuma, as a free agent, reached a three-year agreement last December with the Dodgers for $45 million. That deal fell apart over concerns the Dodgers found in Iwakuma’s physical examination.
Iwakuma then re-signed with the Mariners and expressed puzzlement at the Dodgers’ concerns. After Monday’s game, he dismissed any suggestion that pitching against the Dodgers offered additional motivation.
“I have no feelings toward the past,” he said. “This is just another game.”
UP NEXT: The Mariners have an open date Tuesday in the Cactus League schedule before resuming play at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday against Oakland at Peoria Stadium.
Right-hander Nathan Karns is slotted for six innings in his fifth spring start. The Athletics list right-hander Jesse Hahn as their starter. The game will be televised by Root Sports.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners