“Home runs are awesome.”

In a season where Mariners manager Scott Servais had made a number of comments that have been turned into T-shirts, that simple statement, which he made a few days ago after their only win in a frustrating series in Oakland, rang true for his team on Tuesday night.

And the 38,254 fans and unlisted number of dogs in attendance packed into T-Mobile Park definitely felt the same.

The Mariners rewarded the lively crowd and starting pitcher Robbie Ray, who delivered a brilliant performance, with a pair of two-run homers from Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suarez en route to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.

“The nights that you’re aren’t able to put rallies together or create a lot of traffic on the bases, you need a few guys to pop it over the fence,” Servais said. “The good teams figure out ways to win games differently almost every night. We’ve been able to do that here throughout the season. But guys who hit it over the fence are pretty important in this game. And that’s why they get paid.”

With the win, Seattle improved to 67-56 keeping pace with the Rays (67-55) and Blue Jays (66-55), who both won on Tuesday. Tampa Bay holds a half-game lead over Seattle and Toronto for the first wild card.

The Mariners got an outstanding start from Ray, who flirted with a no-hitter in his 25th start of the season while pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts to improve to 10-8.


“That’s what good starting pitching is all about,” Servais said. “It’s when your team’s lost a couple games and you take the ball and say, ‘it’s not going to happen tonight.’ And you go out and you throw zeros up there and you give your offense a chance to get going. that’s exactly what Robbie did tonight.”

While every starter is important, the circumstances around each are different. Ray knew what his team needed.

“For sure, it was a tough end of the road trip,” Ray said. “We felt like we let a couple slip away there. I just came out today and just tried to put up zeros and I knew the offense was gonna break through. I felt like we’ve been swinging the bat really well and some balls haven’t been falling for us. We were able to hit some balls out of the park today, which was great.”

Seattle provided him with minimal run support during his time on the mound. Haniger homered for the second straight game, crushing a two-run homer to left field off Nationals starter Erick Fedde in the fourth inning.

After working a 2-0 count, he looked for a fastball in his power zone, got it and didn’t miss.

“Mitch is so smart,” Servais said. “He really prepares. He’s a good player. We’ve missed him. He was out a long, long time. It just kind of changes the whole dynamic of our lineup with him, no matter where he’s hitting it. People pay attention to him and they should. He had a great year last year and we’re really excited to have him back.”


He’s hit safely in 17 of his 18 games since his return from the injured list, batting .333 with a double, four homers, nine RBI, eight walks and 13 runs scored.

“I’ve felt good the whole time,” he said. “It’s just about putting good swings on the ball. Sometimes we’re talking less than a centimeter or two between a line out to an outfielder and a home run. You’ve got to keep swinging (at) good pitches and trying to hit the ball hard. That’s always been the goal. It’s a simple focus, but pitchers can make it tough at times.”

Ray retired the first 10 batters he faced before walking Alex Call to start the fourth inning. He erased Call from the bases, picking him off with two outs.

He issued a two-out walk in the fifth inning, but struck out Riley Adams to end the inning.

The no-hitter bid, which probably would’ve had to be a combined no-hitter due to a growing pitch count, came to an end immediately in the seventh inning.

A 1-0 fastball caught just enough of the outside part of the plate for rookie Joey Meneses to turn it into a deep fly ball over the wall in center field.


Not only did it end Ray’s no-hitter, but it also cut the Mariners lead to 2-1.

“I’d fallen behind on Meneses,” he said. “I just left a two-seam in the middle of the plate. I felt like I should have gotten ahead and should’ve made a better pitch beforehand and then I didn’t execute the two-seam exactly how I wanted it to.”

Ray came back to strike out Luke Voit and get Nelson Cruz to ground out. But after Ray gave up an infield single to Lane Thomas on his 103rd pitch of the outing, Servais went to his bullpen.

It meant a fancy new entrance complete with fire siren, the lights going out and the new nickname of the bullpen — Los Bomberos (The Firemen) — flashing on the video board for Andres Munoz as he came from the bullpen. Munoz lived up to the hype video, striking out Cesar Hernandez to end the inning.

The Mariners got that run back immediately and some much needed cushion against one-time Mariners closer Steve Cishek in the bottom of the inning.

Carlos Santana dumped a single into left field and Suarez followed with his team-high 23rd homer — a 430-foot missile with an exit velocity of 108 mph that smacked off the electronic out-of-town scoreboard in deep left-center.

Erik Swanson worked a scoreless eighth while Paul Sewald gave up his first hit and earned run since July 26 — a span of 10 appearances — in the ninth inning. But he closed out the victory.