The Mariners catcher crushed a solo home run off of Steve Geltz in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Seattle a 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and a three-game series sweep.

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After squatting in the afternoon sun for 11 innings and the better part of four hours, Chris Iannetta made sure he wouldn’t have to do it any longer.

Iannetta crushed a 3-2 fastball from right-hander Steve Geltz over the wall in deep right-center for a walkoff solo homer to lead off the 11th inning and break a 5-5 tie, sending Seattle to a 6-5 victory and a series sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The late-inning heroics helped the Mariners improve to 21-13, their best start since 2003. It was their second series sweep of the season.

Winning ways

The Mariners are tied for the franchise’s third-best 34-game start.

2001 Mariners


Final record: 116-46, first in AL West

2002 Mariners


Final record: 93-69, third in AL West

2016 Mariners


Final record: TBD

1997 Mariners


Final record: 90-72, first in AL West

2003 Mariners


Final record: 93-69, second in AL West

“Ideally you don’t want to go to the deepest part of center field here, but I’ll take it,” Iannetta said.

On a sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon where the baseball will carry in the warmth, the hopeful roar from the 23,000 fans in attendance grew in decibels as Iannetta’s rocketing fly ball headed for the fence.

Did he think it was going to make it over?

“If it didn’t, I’d have been really disappointed,” he said.

But Iannetta’s third homer of the season and fifth walkoff homer of his career cleared the fence easily. His teammates spilled onto the field as he rounded the bases for the home-plate celebratory greeting/pummeling.

“I’m really happy for Chris; obviously it was a huge hit,” manager Scott Servais said. “He actually has been swinging the bat OK, but just hasn’t gotten a lot of hits. But his at-bats are going to be very, very good.”

It was a game the Mariners seemingly gave away twice, only to find ways to fight back. They are 5-1 in extra innings, have won their last five one-run games and improved to 16-1 in games where they score four or more runs.

“Any time you can win with some energy, it’s always a confidence-booster for the guys,” Iannetta said. “It builds team chemistry when guys all play together and work hard together. Winning in May and April is just as good as September, so it’s another step closer to our goals.”

Seattle will have Thursday off and then face the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.


L.A. Angels @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

“Quite a game, quite a series,” Servais said. “Really a lot of things happened in that game. We really need an off day. All the guys are looking for it. What a great way to wrap up the series.”

Servais’ bullpen needs that off day a little more than the rest. The unit picked up 51/3 innings on Wednesday without the services of closer Steve Cishek and set-up man Joel Peralta.

“Again, our bullpen, wow,” Servais said. “Nice job, outside of a little hiccup. Nick Vincent made one mistake. That happens. It’s the big leagues.”

That hiccup forced the extra work.

With Cishek unavailable after working a four-out save on Tuesday night, Vincent was brought in to protect the 5-4 lead in the ninth. After making quick work of Steve Pearce with a strikeout, Vincent left a 2-0 cut fastball up in the zone that Kevin Kiermaier deposited into the right-field stands for a tying homer. It was Kiermaier’s fourth homer of the season.

“It was a backdoor cutter that I just left middle,” Vincent said. “Same thing I did with (Carlos) Beltran in New York. I just think with lefties I’ve got to throw a different pitch there. They’re ready to swing, and they know fastball or something hard is coming. If I miss cutter away, it’s 3-0 and that’s what they want. But if I miss middle, it’s right in their bat path. I just have to cancel that pitch out.”

But his fellow relievers picked him up, specifically newcomer Steve Johnson, who was called up a week ago.

The veteran right-hander pitched the final 12/3 innings, escaping a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the 10th and runners on first and second in the 11th to notch his first MLB win since May 29, 2013.

“I didn’t have the best command today, probably my worst of the season, but I was able to throw a couple of curveballs to get me back in counts and I was able to make a couple of pitches to get out of both jams,” Johnson said.

Seattle jumped on all-star starter Chris Archer, scoring three runs in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk from Kyle Seager and a two-run single from Seth Smith.

Nelson Cruz made it 4-0 in the third with a solo homer.

All that run support seemed plenty for starter Taijuan Walker.

Walker cruised through the first five innings without allowing a run while giving up a single and a double and striking out eight batters. But the dominant outing went awry in the sixth.

With one out, Brandon Guyer bounced a double over the wall in right field. Then, in uncharacteristic fashion, Walker issued walks to Brad Miller and Evan Longoria.

With the bases loaded, Corey Dickerson drove a first-pitch curveball over the wall in center for his first career grand slam to tie the score at 4-4.

In the seventh, Cruz put the Mariners up 5-4 with a towering sacrifice fly to left field that scored Robinson Cano with ease.