SEATTLE — This 9-3 victory over San Diego was pretty much what the Mariners needed Monday afternoon to kick their three-loss weekend hangover against last-place Minnesota.
***A well-pitch start. Nathan Karns delivered the rotation’s first quality starts in four games.
***A big-time hit. The Mariners actually got two in a decisive four-run sixth inning against Padres starter Andrew Cashner. Nelson Cruz tied the game with a two-out RBI single.
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Kyle Seager then followed with a two-run homer.
***And a little luck. A catcher’s interference call on San Diego’s Derek Norris opened the door to the Mariners’ four-run sixth after they did little in the first five innings.
"Being able to bounce back as quick as possible," Seager said, "is kind of what separates teams."
The Mariners blew open the game with a five-run eighth inning against former comrade Brandon Maurer. Adam Lind had a two-run single after an intentional walk before Dae-Ho Lee crushed a three-run homer.
It made for a pleasant Memorial Day on a sunny afternoon at Safeco Field.
"We played better baseball the last three innings of that game," Cruz said. "It was nice to see the whole lineup do damage. Nate threw the ball pretty good, and the bullpen did the job."
Karns (5-1) pitched into the seventh inning before exiting after John Jay’s two-out double brought the tying run to the plate. Steve Johnson stranded the runner by striking out Wil Myers.
That left Karns with a line that showed two runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings for the Mariners’ first quality start since last Wednesday’s victory over the Athletics.
"For me," Karns said, "it was `just try to keep the ballgame close.’ I feel as long as we keep it close, eventually we’ll get the big knocks, and our offensive machine will start rolling. Today was a prime example of that."
The Mariners chased Cashner (2-5) later in the seventh but couldn’t extend their lead. An inning later, they bashed Maurer.
Joaquin Benoit protected the two-run lead in a scoreless eighth before Joel Peralta gave up one run in the ninth before closing it out.
The victory halted a three-game skid and provided the Mariners, who remained 1/2-game behind first-place Texas in the American League West Division. Beginning Friday, the Mariners play six games against the Rangers in a 10-day span.
While it ended well, the opening innings played out like a carry-over from those three weekend losses to the Twins.
San Diego opened the scoring when Melvin Upton led off the second inning with a single up the middle. He stole second, went to third on a grounder and scored on Christian Bethancourt’s single.
The Padres added a run in the sixth inning.
Matt Kemp led off with a slicing drive that hopped the right-field wall for a double before Karns made a made an errant throw to first on Yangervis Solaris’ hard comebacker.
Lee turned Upton’s sharp grounder into a first-short-first double play, but Padres caught another break when left fielder Seth Smith couldn’t hold Brett Wallace’s slicing drive after a long run. The result was an RBI double.
Everything changed in the bottom of the sixth after Nori Aoki reached first with one out on Norris’ interference. Smith followed with a slicing RBI double into the left-center gap.
Cashner retired Robinson Cano on a pop to short left, but Cruz grounded a game-tying RBI single into center. Seager followed by turning on a first-pitch fastball drive to right just deep enough to reach the seats.
"I hit it good," Seager said. "I felt pretty confident about it, and it was a little closer than I was hoping. We got a break there with the catcher’s interference. Then Seth and Nellie with big hits there.
"We just kind of fed off that."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Third baseman Kyle Seager did it in the field, too. He charged a squibber by Alexei Ramirez to start the San Diego fifth inning, made a barehanded pickup and a strong throw to first for the out.
Seager followed that by moving to his left to snag a low liner by John Jay for the inning’s second out.
PLUS: Robinson Cano extended his streak of reaching base at least once to 28 games when he drew a walk in the eighth inning. It is the second-longest active streak, trailing a 35-game run by Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna…reliever Steve Johnson gained his first "hold" of the season and has not allowed a run in his last 10 1/3 innings over nine outings…Adam Lind went 2-for-4 and is batting ..327 in his last 14 games…Seth Smith had two doubles in four at-bats and is on a 7-for-16 surge over his last five games, which followed a 5-for-36 skid.
MINUS: catcher Chris Iannetta made a remarkably wild pickoff throw to first base for an error in the first inning…Iannetta was in a 0-for-17 skid before his single in the eighth inning…Shawn O’Malley started at shortstop and went hitless in four at-bats. He is 3-for-21 (.143) in 10 games since his May 15 recall from Triple-A Tacoma.
STAT PACK: The Mariners are 25-12 in their history on Memorial Day. Their .676 winning percentage is the best in baseball among active franchises…Dae-Ho Lee has seven home runs in just 75 at-bats.
QUOTABLE: Nelson Cruz on his game-tying single, a two-out grounder up the middle in the sixth inning against San Diego starter Andrew Cashner:
"He’s tough. He was dealing. Everything was down, down, down. He didn’t leave you any pitch to hit. I was just looking to put a ball in play up the middle. I got it."
Kyle Seager followed with a two-run homer, which gave the Mariners a 4-2 lead.
SHORT HOPS: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and fiancee Ciara attended the game and drew big cheers when shown on the video board…the Mariners posted their 14th come-from-behind victory…the Mariners are 8-2 in Nathan Karns’ 10 starts…the Mariners can finish with a split in their eight-game homestand if they win Tuesday’s series finale against the Padres.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners