The only thing the Mariners couldn’t script Saturday in an otherwise smoothly executed program to retire Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24 was an appropriate performance in the game that followed.
Not to worry.
Shawn O’Malley’s three-run homer capped a four-run seventh inning Saturday that carried the Mariners to an 8-6 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Angels in front of a sellout crowd at Safeco Field.
"Obviously, I grew up watching Griffey,’ said O’Malley, who was born in Richland. "He’s been amazing to watch. The fact it ended like that, it just seemed like a Griffey kind of night.
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"A home run to go up in the late innings. It was just fitting."
The Mariners trailed 3-0, 5-1 and 6-2 before storming back.
"An outstanding effort by everybody," manager Scott Servais said. "Everybody throughout the organization. A really good night to be a Mariner. From the Griffey stuff to our guys responding, pretty cool."
Not at the start.
Los Angeles roughed up Taijuan Walker for six runs over four innings in his first start since July 5, but the Mariners’ bullpen delivered a lockdown performance that provided an opportunity for a comeback.
Cody Martin, Drew Storen, Tim Wilhelmsen and Edwin Diaz combined for four scoreless innings. Diaz pitched the ninth without getting a strikeout but collected his fourth save in four chances since becoming the closer.
"You can’t script this," said Storen, grew up a Griffey fan in Indiana after getting the victory. "Not just tonight but ever since I got here (in a July 26 trade). We’re never out of it."
O’Malley followed his homer with a web-gem defensive play to start the eighth inning when he threw out Andrelton Simmons from deep in the hole. Wilhelmsen mouthed a "wow" from the mound and pointed in appreciation.
Before completing their comeback, the Mariners offered up a tease in the sixth inning. Trailing 6-4, they loaded the bases with one out on singles by Chris Iannetta and Leonys Martin before Guillermo Heredia walked.
That finished Angels starter Tyler Skaggs.
LA manager Mike Scioscia opted for a right-on-right matchup by summoning Mike Morin to face Franklin Gutierrez, who already had three hits against Skaggs.
Morin fell behind 3-0, but Gutierrez popped the next pitch into short left. The Mariners left the bases loaded when Robinson Cano hit a high pop to short right field.
Los Angeles then missed a a chance to pad its lead by leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Storen (2-3) retired Albert Pujols on a fly to right for the final out.
That was all prelude to the Mariners seventh, when Jose Valdez (0-1) gift-wrapped the opportunity by loading the bases with three straight one-out walks before the Angels turned to Deolis Guerra.
Martin delivered a sacrifice fly, which got the game to O’Malley, who drove a Guerra fastball over the right-field wall. The Mariners led for the first time.
"We had a good thing going," O’Malley said. "Guys before me had really good at-bats. I just wanted to finish it. I didn’t expect to do that (hit a homer), but I got a pitch up in the zone that I could handle.
"Luckily it ended up in the seats."
Walker began the game by walking Yunel Escobar after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. Kole Calhoun followed by driving a first-pitch fastball into the left-center gap for a double that moved Escobar to third.
Mike Trout then crushed a three-run homer. Just like Friday. And just like Friday, the Mariners trailed 3-0 after three batters. Trout’s homer went 444 feet. His blast Friday against Felix Hernandez traveled just 425.
On Friday, the Mariners faced Tim Lincecum and responded with six runs. (Lincecum was designated for assignment prior to Saturday’s game.)
On Saturday, against Skaggs, they got one run on successive one-out doubles by Gutierrez and Cano. But that was it. Nelson Cruz struck out, and Dae-Ho Lee grounded out.
The Angels extended their lead to 5-1 in the third inning and, again, Trout was in the middle of it with an RBI triple. Walker gave up another run in the fourth before exiting.
"The foot felt fine," he said. "I fielded a bunt. I covered first. So now I’ve just got to really focus in on my fastball command."
The Mariners began clawing back on Guillermo Heredia’s leadoff homer in the third inning and Gutierrez’s two-run shot in the fifth.
"There was a feeling, an excitement, in the park tonight," Servais said. "Our players certainly felt it. I think it started with Griffey addressing our team during his speech, which meant a lot to our guys."
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners had just taken an 8-6 lead on Shawn O’Malley’s three-run homer in a four-run seventh inning when Andrelton Simmons began the Angels’ eighth with a grounder into the hole.
The ball looked like a sure hit when it got past third baseman Kyle Seager, but O’Malley reached it and threw out Simmons at first base.
"I had that play a couple of days ago," O’Malley said "and I couldn’t get anything on my throw. Finally, that one, I cleared my hips and was able to get something on the ball. Fortunately, it was at a big time in the game."
PLUS: Franklin Gutierrez had three hits after entering the game in a 4-for-25 slump. Manager Scott Servais said, "Edgar (Martinez) said something earlier today that he thought Guti had found something in the cage. Tonight, it certainly paid off. He looked different in the box."…left fielder Guillermo Heredia hit his first big-league homer and had two walks in five plate appearances. He also turned a fly ball into the gap into a double play.
MINUS: The Mariners found them down 3-0 three hitters into the game for second straight night because of a Mike Trout homer…Nelson Cruz was hitless in five at-bats and has just two hits in his last 23 at-bats…catcher Chris Iannetta committed a passed ball in the fourth inning on a high pitch that appeared to go through his glove. It was his sixth passed ball of the season.
STAT PACK: The Mariners have 11 victories when trailing by three or more runs. No other club has more than nine.
QUOTABLE: "As much as it was a feel-good night for everyone in the ballpark," manager Scott Servais said, "you want to do your part. Send everybody home happy.
"You want to say you never die, you never quit. When there’s 40-plus-thousand people in the stands, all wearing Griffey shirts, you’d better not quit."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners