Here was Taijuan Walker taking another step Monday night toward becoming the dominant pitcher the Seattle Mariners have long envisioned.
The 22-year-old shackled the San Francisco Giants over seven innings in a 5-1 victory that pulled the Mariners out of whatever funk they slipped into over the weekend in Houston.
This makes four consecutive quality starts (at least six innings, allowing no more than three earned runs) by Walker at a time when the Mariners are dealing with two injuries in their rotation and seeking to keep their head above water.
Walker (4-6) held the Giants the one run and seven hits before Mark Lowe and Charlie Furbush closed out the victory in the start to a four-game series between that teams: two in California and two at Safeco Field.
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The Mariners broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth.
Giants starter Tim Hudson (4-6) had retired nine in a row before Brad Miller sliced a leadoff single to left. Miller went to second when Mike Zunino pulled a liner through the left side.
Walker struck out on three attempts at a sacrifice bunt that underscored he’s an American League pitcher, but Logan Morrison pulled an RBI single into right for a 2-1 lead.
Austin Jackson then sent a soft pop into short right. Three Giants surrounded it but none caught it — although second baseman Joe Panik recovered quick enough to throw to second for a force on Morrison.
Zunino scored, though, and the Mariners led 3-1.
The Mariners chased Hudson in the sixth, when Kyle Seager led off with a single, and Seth Smith followed with a walk.
Yusmeiro Petit cleaned up the mess by striking out Miller and Zunino before retiring Walker on a hopper to the right of the mound.
Walker had retired 11 in a row before Brandon Crawford pulled a two-out double in the right-field corner in the sixth inning. Matt Duffy’s slicing drive fell just foul before he grounded out to third.
That finished Walker’s night: 98 pitches (67 for strikes), seven hits, no walks and six strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA over his past four starts with three walks and 27 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Seager’s booming one-out homer in the eighth against Jeremy Affeldt, a graduate of Northwest Christian High near Spokane, extended the lead to 4-1. Seager crushed a 91-mph fastball on a 2-1 count for his 11th homer of the year.
Jackson added a two-out RBI single in the ninth against Hunter Strickland after Morrison stole second base. Lowe pitched a one-two-three eighth with two strikeouts before Furbush finished up in a non-save situation.
The Mariners are 4-3 on an eight-game trip that concludes at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday at AT&T Park. The two teams play Wednesday and Thursday nights at Safeco Field.
It started well.
The Mariners jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first because of Nelson Cruz’s speed.
Morrison and Jackson opened the game with singles, and Morrison went to third on Robinson Cano’s fly to deep center. Cruz then hit a potential double-play grounder to second but beat the relay.
Walker pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the Giants’ first, both on soft liners just over a leaping Miller at shortstop, by striking out Brandon Belt.
The Giants began the second inning with singles by Crawford and Duffy.
Walker struck out Jarrett Parker and retired Hudson on a topper back to the mound, but the Giants drew even when Nori Aoki’s soft hopper cleared the mound for an RBI single.
It was their only run.