BALTIMORE — In an unprecedented four-game sweep in Baltimore, the Seattle Mariners outscored the Orioles by a total of six runs and twice prevailed in extra innings.
The difference between the two teams, to a large degree, is that Seattle finds a way to win, and the Orioles keep coming up with a variety of ways to lose.
Nelson Cruz homered and drove in three runs, and the Mariners capitalized on two 10th-inning errors in a 4-2 victory Thursday that completed their first four-game sweep at Baltimore in franchise history.
The Mariners improved to 8-0 in extra innings this season. They won in 11 innings on Wednesday, after winning the first two games of the series 5-3 and 3-2.
“We won four games, four different ways,” manager Scott Servais said with pride. “It shows what kind of team we are. Different players on different nights, all pitching in. We are playing pretty good baseball as a team right now. This sweep was a great turnaround for us.”
The Mariners came to town with a run of six losses in seven games. They headed back to Seattle in the thick of the AL West race.
“It’s great to get a sweep,” shortstop Jean Segura said. “It gives us momentum as we go back home.”
After missing two straight games with lower back pain, Cruz celebrated his return with his 21st homer , a two-run shot in the fourth inning that put Seattle up 2-0.
Manny Machado and Chris Davis answered with solo drives off Mike Leake in the bottom half, and that accounted for all the scoring until the 10th.
Dee Gordon beat out a dribbler to the left of the mound and scored when centre fielder Colby Rasmus bobbled Segura’s single off Miguel Castro (2-4). A throwing error by third baseman Steve Wilkerson and an RBI single by Cruz followed.
Gordon’s speed and Cruz’s power have proven to be a potent combination for the Mariners. It was certainly too much for Baltimore.
“Guys like Gordon put such pressure on you because you know any little bobble, anything, he’s going to take another base,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “A groundball that probably 95 per cent of people are out on pretty easily, it’s a base hit. That’s why they’re having a good year and winning some games, because of things like that.
“You can’t say, ‘We don’t have it.’ Well, a lot of teams don’t have that.”
Juan Nicasio got three straight outs in the 10th for his first save after James Pazos (2-1) worked the ninth.
Leake allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, his eighth straight start of at least six innings.
Making his first major league start, Jimmy Yacabonis gave up two runs and six hits over four-plus innings for Baltimore. After Yacabonis allowed two straight singles to start the fifth, Jefry Ramirez took over and retired Segura and Mitch Haniger before striking out Cruz.
“I thought I did well,” Yacabonis said. “There were a couple of times where I tried to make my pitches too good instead of just executing. That’s just going to come with fine tuning and experience.”
Recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game, Ramirez threw five innings of three-hit ball in his second big league game.
Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a sixth-inning single. It matches a career high, set with Seattle in 2015. … Davis has two HRs in his last two games and three in seven games since returning from an 8-game hiatus designed to break a season-long skid.
Mariners: 3B Kyle Seager did not start after hurting his toe during a swing Wednesday night, but entered as a pinch hitter in the ninth and stayed in the game.
Orioles: 3B Tim Beckham was given a day off. He had played in three straight games since coming off the DL following core surgery. “He feels good. We just want to keep him that way,” Showalter said. … CF Adam Jones was also rested. “I’ve been looking for a day (off) for him, and today’s the day,” Showalter said.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (7-5, 4.04 ERA) starts against Kansas City on Friday night in the opener of a nine-game homestand.
Orioles: Rookie David Hess (2-4, 5.44) helps Baltimore launch a three-game series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS