Jean Segura hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and the Mariners salvaged a 3-2 victory over the visiting Giants.
The quest to score four runs and all that it means for their victory hopes in games fell just short. But a solid start from Mike Leake, and strong relief work behind him, allowed the Mariners to scrape together just enough offense to pull out a win on a sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field.
With their bats still caught somewhere between slumping and scuffling for the month of July, Seattle got the key base-hit when it mattered most, securing a 3-2 win over the Giants and salvaging a split of the two-game series.
Jean Segura’s ground-ball single up the middle off reliever Sam Dyson scored Guillermo Heredia from second base with the go-ahead run, breaking a 2-2 tie the bottom of the eighth inning to provide the difference.
“I was just trying to get a sinker down over the plate and he threw the perfect pitch to put a good swing on it,” Segura said. “I just wanted to be ready for it and drive it to the middle of the field.”
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Closer Edwin Diaz nailed down his major-league-leading 38th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning as the Mariners improved to 61-41.
“Plus one,” manager Scott Servais joked about the team’s run differential. “That’s the goal every day, plus one. We won the game by one. And that’s the goal every day, winning the game.”
Realistically, Servais wouldn’t mind a few wins by more than one run for his own health and sanity. But his team can’t seem to avoid them. Seattle is now 27-13 in one-run games.
As for that aforementioned four-run barrier, it has often been the determinant for the Mariners’ success in games this season. Score four runs or more, they are 43-12. Score fewer than four runs and they are 18-29, which includes the latest victory.
The Mariners can’t deny they’re struggling offensively of late. They are averaging 3.16 runs per game and hitting .232 (132 for 570) with just 13 homers and an on-base plus slugging percentage under .650 in July. This was the 12th time in 18 games where the Mariners scored fewer than four runs. They’ve won just four of those 12.
“Our offense, we scratched and clawed and tried to figure out a way to get a few up there,” Servais said. “It was not easy when you are struggling offensively, you have to find a way and that’s what we did today. You go through these stretches through the course of the season and it’s tough. It’s not like these guys aren’t trying. It’s just the ballgames we are playing in right now.”
Leake pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts but took the no-decision. Alex Colome (3-5) got the win in relief.
“The last couple of starts I feel like I’ve been able to keep the ball down and use the action of the pitch,” Leake said.
Knowing they can’t rely on the homer or even the extra-base hit, the Mariners manufactured a run in the first inning against starter Derek Holland. Dee Gordon was hit by a pitch, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error on his stolen base and then scored on Segura’s sac fly to center for a 1-0 lead.
“When me and Dee are getting on base a lot, it just makes the team different,” Segura said.
Seattle pushed the lead to 2-0 in the second inning. First baseman Ryon Healy, who is one of the few Mariners seemingly heating up at the plate in July along with the weather, smashed a solo homer into unsuspecting fans congregated in The ‘Pen to make it 2-0. It was Healy’s 21st homer of the season and fifth in July.
“The home run has not been a big part of our game lately, outside of Ryon Healy, you have to give him credit,” Servais said. “He’s had a nice homestand, hitting three homers.”
But the Mariners couldn’t hold the lead. Leake gave back the two-run lead in the seventh with the help of Juan Nicasio, a throwing error by Gordon and a little bit of bad luck.
Brandon Belt led off the inning with a hard single off the glove of Healy. The ball ricocheted into the air and second baseman Gordon tried to pick it up and fire to first to get the slow-running Belt. But the ball instead sailed into the Mariners dugout allowing Belt, who injured himself on the play, to move to second. That extra base loomed costly when Brandon Crawford blooped a pop-up that landed in shallow left field just out of the reach of a sliding/diving Denard Span, allowing pinch runner Chase D’Arnaud to score.
Despite Leake having thrown only 78 pitches, Servais went to his bullpen, calling on Nicasio to finish up the inning. Nicasio couldn’t do it without allowing another run — charged to Leake — to score. After striking out Pablo Sandoval, Nicasio threw a nasty 90 mph slider on the hands of Hunter Pence. The fidgety Pence broke his bat but got just enough of the ball to send a soft line drive to right that bounced off the glove of Mitch Haniger and allowed Crawford to score from second, tying the score at 2-2.