BALTIMORE — The thought of stopping never occurred to Mallex Smith.
The speedster raced home from second on an infield single to lead the Mariners to a 7-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in 13 innings on Saturday night.
With two outs in the 13th, Smith reached on an infield error and stole second, his 45th theft of the year. When Tim Lopes hit a high hopper to third and Smith saw the Orioles’ Rio Ruiz throw to first, he rounded third and raced home.
“I’m definitely going to win that game,” he said. “With an opportunity like that, I have no plans on stopping. Third baseman playing back, chopper, I’m out of there.”
As Lopes crossed the bag at first, Orioles first baseman Trey Manicini fired the ball home but had no chance to catch the sliding Smith. Erik Swanson pitched the 13th to get the save, his second, and preserve the win for Dan Altavilla (2-1).
When Smith went to the plate in the final frame, he had been hitless in five at-bats. Manager Scott Servais knew the damage Smith could do on the base paths — he just needed to get on.
“That’s Mallex’s game. I was just hoping we’d get him on-base at some point tonight,” he said. “That’s what his speed does. That’s typically how you win those games. There aren’t many times someone gets one up there and pops one out of the park. You have to try to create something.”
Before Lopes’ single, the last Mariners hit was in the eighth inning.
“We needed it,” added Servais. “It was tough to score runs in that game late.”
J.P. Crawford drilled a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Mariners a 6-4 lead, but the Orioles’ Austin Hays returned the favor with a two-run shot off Sam Tuivailala in the bottom of the frame to knot the score.
Crawford had three hits, four RBI and scored two runs.
“J.P. Crawford looked awesome tonight at the plate,” Servais said. “He’s been working really hard at making some adjustments in his set-up. To see him catch up to that high fastball was great.”
Rookie Shed Long had three hits, including his fifth homer, and scored three runs.
With the exception of Tuivailala, the nine Mariners relievers were stellar in overcoming a shaky outing by rookie starter Justus Sheffield, who gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings and remains searching for his first career win.
The Mariners (66-89) and Orioles (50-105) have two of the worst records in the American League, but the 4-hour, 42-minute game was as competitive as they come.
“Two teams that have a lot of young players, kind of grinding through it,” Servais said. “It’s good to see the effort they guys are putting forward out there. Both teams wanted to win the game, we just got one lucky break at the end. We made it happen. Good for us.”
Smith said, “you want to win every time you step out there.”
“Everybody in here is a competitor,” he said. “You play a game that long, you would rather come out on top.”
- Reliever Austin Adams hurt his knee covering first on a close play in the seventh inning and was removed from the game. The injury did not appear to be serious, Servais said.
- OF Domingo Santana was the designated hitter, his second appearance since coming off the IL on Tuesday following elbow inflammation. He went 0 for 3 in his first start since Aug. 18.
- Rookie OF Kyle Lewis played center field when Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh went into extra innings, but Servais warns not to expect to see him there for the long haul. “He’s played all three (outfield positions),” Servais said. “A long-term plan for Kyle, he probably ends up on a corner.”