Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners 6, Athletics 5: Martin’s walk-off homer ends home skid

Leonys Martin howled in joy as he rounded the bases Tuesday after hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning.
Leonys Martin howled in joy as he rounded the bases Tuesday after hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning. AP

SEATTLE — OK…maybe this is the year.

Leonys Martin pulled the Mariners out of their Safeco blues Tuesday night with a walk-off homer, a two-run blast with two outs and two strikes, that produced a 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

And it was a no-doubt bomb against Oakland closer Ryan Madson that ended a four-game home losing streak and brought the Mariners cascading out of the dugout in celebration.

"Oh, my gosh," Martin gushed. "This is a feeling I’ve never had before. This is amazing right now. So much fun."

The Mariners were down to their last out when Nori Aoki, who had lost his leadoff job, sliced a double to left field just beyond the reach of Coco Crisp.

Martin then fell into a 1-2 hole on Madson (2-1) before crushing a change-up for his ninth homer of the season.

"We had a lead with our three best (relievers) coming into the game," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "(John) Axford gave up a couple. Madson gave up a couple. It’s going to happen sometimes."

Martin’s homer capped a comeback after the Mariners saw a 2-1 lead slip away when Oakland scored four runs in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano’s two-run homer in the eighth closed the gap to one run.

Mike Montgomery (2-0) got the victory by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings — after yielding a two-run double to Crisp in the sixth.

"It was just excitement (when Martin hit the homer)," Montgomery said. "He had two strikes, and we were just saying, `Do it. Put the ball in play. Base-hit. Then he just launched it."

The victory enabled the Mariners to maintain their 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Texas in the American League West Division.

“The only thing I can say is, `Wow,” manager Scott Servais said. “We didn’t quit. Robby, Leonys, Mike Montgomery — a lot of heroes in this game.”

The Mariners led 2-1 in the sixth when Nathan Karns ran into trouble by yielding singles to Stephen Vogt and Danny Valencia, which put runners at first and third with no outs.

In came Nick Vincent and his 1.40 ERA.

That didn’t work.

Vincent surrendered a game-tying sacrifice fly to Khris Davis, a single to Yonder Alonso and a tie-breaking RBI double to Marcus Semien. An intentional walk to Chris Coghlan loaded the bases with one out.

It was Vincent’s third blown save in four chances — although that’s somewhat deceptive since he is a setup reliever who also has nine holds.

Vincent struck out Jake Smolinski before the Mariners summoned Montgomery and his 1.90 ERA to turn switch-hitter Coco Crisp to the right side.

That didn’t work either.

Crisp pulled a two-run double into the left-field corner, and the Athletics led 5-2, but Montgomery allowed nothing further.

Franklin Gutierrez started the comeback with a leadoff pinch double in the eighth inning against John Axford, and Cano followed with a two-run homer.

When Axford walked Nelson Cruz, the Mariners had the tying run on base. But lefty Mark Rzepcynski replaced Axford and quelled the threat by getting Kyle Seager to ground into a double play.

Madson then retired the first two hitters in the ninth before Aoki and Martin rescued the Mariners.

“As soon as I hit the ball,” Martin said, “I knew it was going to be gone. I crushed the ball.”

Servais added: “No doubt. He hit the tar out of it. Even at Safeco Field, that one’s going to get out.”

And, boy, the Mariners needed something good to happen at Safeco after losing four in a row at home where, even now, they sport a 9-11 record. In contrast, they have baseball’s best road record at 18-7.

It started well.

The Mariners, after being blanked in Monday’s opener, scored in the first inning when Cano lined a one-out double past center fielder Billy Burns after a Seth Smith single.

Burns aided the cause by taking a poor route to the ball.

Oakland pulled even when Karns grooved a breaking ball to Crisp, who drove it 374 feet to right for a one-out homer in the third inning.

The Mariners put their first two batters on base in their third. Cano grounded into a double play, but Cruz followed with an RBI single for a 2-1 lead.

It was still a one-run lead in the fifth when Oakland pulled starter Kendall Graveman after singles by Aoki and Smith put runners at first and second with one out.

Melvin called on lefty Daniel Coulombe to face Cano. It worked. Cano flied out to left. Coulombe then struck out Cruz. The lead stayed at one.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Shawn O’Malley took a bite out his reputation for staying back on grounders when he charged Billy Burns’ slow two-out chopper in the fifth inning.

O’Malley made the pickup and a strong throw to first that just beat Burns.

PLUS: Seth Smith broke out of a 5-for-36 slide by getting singles in his three at-bats… Robinson Cano’s double in the first inning extended his streak of reaching base at least once to 23 games…Cano drove in three runs and leads the majors with 42 RBIs.

MINUS: Nori Aoki was thrown out stealing for the seventh time in nine chances…Adam Lind was hitless in three at-bats, which dropped his average to, .216

STAT PACK: Leonys Martin’s homer was his ninth of the season, which is a career best. He had eight in 2013 at Texas.

QUOTABLE: "Look at that," Leonys Martin said as he pointed the imprint of a seam on his bat. "That’s the homer right there."

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners