OK, somehow it turned out well. The Mariners rescued themselves Tuesday night from their increasingly combustible bullpen by pulling out a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings.
Austin Jackson provided the walk-off victory by shooting a liner through the right side of the infield that landed just fair with the bases loaded.
“Man, you know what, I really didn’t know (if it was fair),” Jackson said. “I still didn’t know it was fair even when (first-base umpire Jeff Nelson) called it fair. I was like, `Oh, I don’t know…because nobody really reacted.”
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The Mariners then rushed Jackson in celebration as he hovered between first and second base.
“I guess it hit the chalk,” he said, “and the rest is history.”
It shouldn’t have been this hard.
The Mariners were five outs from victory with a 5-2 lead before Tom Wilhelmsen and Joe Beimel gave up back-to-back homers in the eighth inning to Adam Jones and Chris Davis.
That breakdown snatched a victory away from Taijuan Walker, who recovered from a rough start by pitching through the sixth inning.
Logan Morrison started the winning rally with a bloop double that fell just fair inside the left-field line against lefty reliever T.J. McFarland (0-2).
“I was just trying to use the big part of the field.” Morrison said. “I know he had a good two-seamer (fastball) and was trying to get it away from me. I didn’t to look to see if it was fair or foul. I was just running.”
Brad Miller then hopped a single through the left side of the infield that moved Morrison to third and forced the Orioles to shorten their infield and outfield for a possible play at the plate.
Mike Zunino drew a walk that loaded the bases with no outs.
Jackson’s single ended it.
“I knew it was through the infield,” Morrison said. “I was standing there to see if it was fair or foul. It looked like it hit fair, so I was like, `Cool.’”
Nelson Cruz extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games with a home run in the first inning. It was his 34th homer of the season, which enabled him to take over the major-league lead.
But he also left the game after the sixth inning because of neck spasms. Afterward, Cruz said was feeling better, but he seems unlikely to play Wednesday afternoon when the three-game series concludes.
“I was just sitting on the bench,” Cruz said, “and I could feel my neck get tight. It’s nothing bad or anything that should be a concern. It’s just kind of stiff.”
Walker recovered from a long two-run first inning by pitching through the sixth with no further damage. He gave up two runs and five hits while walking one and striking out six.
“Earlier in the season,” Walker said, “I probably would have kept overthrowing and trying to do too much. Try to strike everyone out. But now, I feel more comfortable and relaxed.
“I trust my stuff more.”
Walker probably deserved to win — just as he did in his last start at Colorado. Instead, he settled for a no-decision. He is 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA over his last 14 starts with 93 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 92 innings.
Wilhelmsen inherited a three-run lead and breezed through the seventh inning and retired the first batter in the eighth before walking Gerardo Parra.
Adam Jones then crushed a 2-1 fastball in the middle of the plate for a no-doubt homer to left. The lead was down to 5-4.
Beimel replaced Wilhelmsen and gave up a game-tying homer to Chris Davis. It, too, was a no-doubter.
Carson Smith replaced Beimel and retired the next two hitters. Smith worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth before Fernando Rodney (5-4) pitched a one-two-three 10th inning.
Early on, the Mariners battered long-time tormentor Chris Tillman, their former farmhand, for five runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. He was 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA in seven previous starts against his former club.
Cruz started a four-run first inning with a two-out homer. Robinson Cano and Seth Smith followed Cruz’s homer with singles before Mark Trumbo rocked a three-run homer.
The Mariners led 4-2.
That came after the Orioles cuffed Walker for two runs in the first inning on Jonathan Schoop’s bases loaded single with two outs. Walker needed 33 pitches to get through the inning.
“I think I was just overthrowing,” he said. “Trying to do too much in the first inning.”
The Mariners stretched their lead to 5-2 in the second after Miller led off with double off the glove of a diving Nolan Reimold in left. Miller went to third on Jackson’s single and scored on Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly.
Tillman exited after the Mariners put runners at second and third with one out in the third inning. Brian Matusz stranded both runners. The Mariners didn’t score again until the 10th inning.
WEDNESDAY: Baltimore (RHP Kevin Gausman 2-3, 4.56 ERA) at Seattle (RHP Hisashi Iwakuma 3-2, 4.41 ERA), 12:40 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM. 1030-AM