CINCINNATI — Here’s how things are going these days for the Mariners.
Manager Scott Servais shifted Leonys Martin to the leadoff role Sunday afternoon — viewing it, perhaps, as a one-time move — and Martin responded with four hits in a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
"We’re riding the Leonys wave right now," Servais said. "He’s really on a really good roll…He can do a lot of different things. He’s a dynamic player. It was a good fit for him today at the top of the lineup."
Martin ignited a three-run fifth inning with a bunt single, although that required a challenge after he was initially called out.
"You can see the ball isn’t in the glove when you hit the base," Martin said. "I knew I was going to be safe."
He was right, the call was overturned and everything rolled from there. That three-run fifth was the difference as the Mariners completed a three-game weekend sweep at Great American Ball Park.
"We know that with our offense, big things can happen," closer Steve Cishek said. "You get a couple of guys on base, and people start smelling blood. And they get after it."
The bullpen got after it, too. Again. More on that in a minute.
Mariners starter Wade Miley (5-2) recovered from a three-run first inning by limiting the Reds to just one more run — albeit a loud run — before handing a 5-4 lead to Nick Vincent in the seventh.
Vincent, Joaquin Benoit and Steve Cishek retired nine straight batters over the final three innings, which mirrored what Vidal Nuno, Mike Montgomery and Joel Peralta did in Saturday’s 4-0 victory.
Benoit had a tidy 10-pitch inning after laboring through 29 pitches Thursday at Baltimore in his first outing after missing nearly four weeks because of shoulder inflammation.
Cishek converted his first save situation since blowing two opportunities on the last homestand. His 12th save in 15 chances closed out a 5-1 road trip that began with two victories in three games against the Orioles.
"It’s nice to have Benoit back," Servais said. "I thought his fastball was very lively today. He went right after them. And Cishek, outside of the last homestand, continues to be outstanding."
The victory enabled the Mariners, at 26-17, to maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Texas in the American League West Division.
The Reds staked starter Alfredo Simon (1-5) to leads of 3-0 and 4-2, but Big Pasta couldn’t hold it before exiting after throwing 90 pitches in five innings.
Miley followed up six shutout innings at Baltimore by having all sorts of first-inning trouble.
Zack Cosart led off with a double before Miley hit Billy Hamilton with an 0-2 pitch — it required a challenge by the Reds to get the call right on Hamilton.
Joey Votto’s single through the right side loaded the bases, and Brandon Phillips followed with a two-run double into the right-center gap. Jay Bruce’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
"I was having a hard time executing pitches," Miley said. "They were aggressive, as they should be, because I was leaving a lot of stuff over the middle of the plate.
"I was just trying to keep us close, and I was able to do that. With our offense, the odds are pretty good in our favor if you can hold a team (close)."
Miley’s leadoff single ignited a two-run answer in the third inning. Martin followed with a single before Robinson Cano drove in one run with an ground single and Nelson Cruz another with ground out.
The Reds pushed out to 4-2 when Adam Duvall led off the fourth inning with a mammoth 457-foot homer to left-center, but the Mariners struck back with their three-run fifth for a 5-4 lead.
Martin led off with a bunt single and went to third when Aoki chopped a single off the top of Votto’s glove at first. Cano made it 4-3 with a sacrifice fly before Cruz walked. Kyle Seager tied it with an RBI single to center.
Seager went to second when Hamilton made a errant throw back to the infield, which prompted an intentional walk to Adam Lind, but Steve Clevenger responded with a single to left.
Cruz scored easily, but Seager was thrown out at the plate. So the Mariners settled for a one-run lead.
It was enough.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Steve Clevenger had missed what he believed were hittable pitches in his first two at-bats against Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon.
So Clevenger was ready when the Reds issued an intentional walk in the fifth inning to Adam Lind that loaded the bases with two outs in a 4-4 game.
"I’d seen him twice already," Clevenger said, "and I knew he had a good sinker. He had been hanging some splits, and I was just looking for something up. Be aggressive in that situation.
"The at-bat before, he left the same pitch (up), and I missed it."
This time, Clevenger sliced an RBI single into the left for the go-ahead (and, eventually, the winning) run."
PLUS: Leonys Martin produced the third four-hit game of the season by a Mariner. Robinson Cano had four on May 7 in a 3-2 victory at Houston, and Ketel Marte had four on May 9 in a 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay…Shawn O’Malley replaced Marte at shortstop and went 2-for-4 with a double…The Mariners’ bullpen has faced just 31 batters over its last 10 innings and has retired the last 20 batters it faced.
MINUS: The Mariners missed chances to extend their lead in the eighth and ninth innings by stranding runners at third base…O’Malley made an off-line throw to first base that prevented the Mariners from turning a double play in the fifth inning…Seth Smith fouled out as a pinch-hitter and is in a 5-for-36 slump that has dropped his average to .236.
STAT PACK: Robinson Cano’s RBI single in the third inning extended his streak to reaching base at least once to 21 games. He also had a sacrifice fly later in the game, which boosted his MLB-leading RBI total to 39.
QUOTABLE: Wade Miley on his leadoff single in the third inning, which probably should have been a double on a slicing drive up the left-field line.
"It should have been a foul ball," Miley said. "I was so late on it."
Miley’s single started a two-run inning.
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners improved to 13-2 in their all-time series against the Reds, including 8-1 in Cincinnati…the Mariners are an MLB-best 18-7 on the road…this was the Mariners’ 11th come-from-behind victory.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners