Mariners finish homestand smiling

Morse hits another homer, starter Harang steady as Seattle wins 2nd straight series at Safeco Field

The Associated PressMay 2, 2013 

SEATTLE — Michael Morse hit an opposite-field two-run homer, his third home run in four games, Aaron Harang pitched six solid innings for his first win, and the Seattle Mariners won their second straight series with an 8-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

After not winning a series for most of April, the Mariners went 5-2 on their homestand, taking three of four from the Angels and two of three from Baltimore.

Morse’s homer was the highlight on a night when the Mariners scored four times with two outs off Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (2-3). Michael Saunders had three hits and scored three times, while Kendrys Morales had three RBI, including a two-run double in the sixth inning.

Morse became the first Seattle hitter to have nine homers in the team’s first 30 games since Mike Cameron in 2002.

Seattle was hitting just .230 on the season with two outs but scored four runs on key two-out hits. Bay got the Mariners started

with a double into the left-field corner to score Morales in the first after Chen easily got the first two outs of the game.

The Mariners scored twice in the second, including the first triple in the career of slow-footed Seattle catcher Jesus. Leading off the inning, Montero hit a drive to deep left-center that Adam Jones was tracking. Jones seemed confident enough that he blew a bubble with his gum as he chased the long fly ball but watched as the ball deflected off the edge of his glove just before he crashed hard into the wall. Montero scored on Saunders’ single and Morales followed with another two-out RBI base hit for a 3-0 lead.

Morse then capped Chen’s miserable night with his drive to right-center in the fourth. Chen matched the shortest start of his career, lasting just four innings, giving up five runs, eight hits and walking three.

Morales and the Mariners were not done, adding three more in the sixth. Morales hit a two-run double to center and scored on Bay’s sacrifice fly. It was just the third time this season the Mariners scored more than seven runs.

Harang (1-3) was knocked around in his three previous outings, failing to pitch past the fifth in any allowing 13 earned runs in his previous two outings against Texas and the Los Angeles Angels.

That all changed against the Orioles. Getting ahead of batters, Harang took a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning. He retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced and Matt Wieters was the only Baltimore batter to reach with a two-out double in the second.

Harang finally found trouble in the sixth but was able to finish the inning without Seattle having to touch its bullpen. Manny Machado’s double extended his hitting streak to 10 games and was Baltimore’s first hit since Wieters’ double. Nick Markakis then lined a 3-2 pitch back up the middle into center field to score Machado and end Harang’s shutout. Jones followed with an RBI double, but Harang struck out Chris Davis to end the inning.

Machado added a solo homer in the eighth inning.

BEAVAN, LUETGE ON MOVE

The Mariners sent right-handed pitcher Blake Beavan down to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge on Wednesday.

Beavan was originally part of the back end of the Mariners’ rotation to open the season but pitched himself out of that role. In two starts, Beavan had a 8.44 ERA. The Mariners moved him to the bullpen to be long relief, which was needed since they had just one off day in April.

Beavan had relied on his fastball command as his primary weapon. Since last season, he’s been trying to refine his off-speed stuff.

The Mariners feel he’s made progress with his secondary pitches but at the cost of using his fastball. With the May schedule less harsh, Hector Noesi in the bullpen as a possible long man and the rear of the rotation still teetering, the Mariners sent Beavan down.

“Going down there gives him an opportunity to put it all together,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

Luetge is back after an effective stint in Tacoma. Since being optioned to Triple-A April 10, more because of roster needs and Luetge’s available options than results, Luetge made eight relief appearances with the Rainiers and posted a 2.45 ERA. Opponents hit just .184 against him.

SAME OLD, SAME OLD?

The Mariners played 22 games last April and averaged 4.09 runs per game. After 29 April games this season, they are averaging 3.28 runs per game.

Last April, the team hit .238 and had a .375 slugging percentage. This April, the Mariners hit .242 and slugged .378.

IWAKUMA MOVES UP

Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders will swap starting spots this weekend in Toronto, with Iwakuma starting Saturday and Saunders on Sunday.

Staff and wire contributed to this report.

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