Soft-spoken Seth Smith insists his recent surge of home runs for the Seattle Mariners is just part of the ebb and flow of baseball.
His bat would say something much louder.
Smith homered for a career-best fourth consecutive game, and the Mariners belted AL East-leading Baltimore, 9-4, in front of 31,405 at Safeco Field on Sunday afternoon.
Seattle accounted for 23 extra-base hits — one short of the team record in a four-game series set in 1987 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Ten of those hits were home runs as the Mariners completed their first four-game sweep since 2012.
Smith gave the Mariners a 4-0 lead in the third inning. He ripped an 0-2 pitch off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez into the seats in right center for his first career grand slam.
It was Smith’s 10th home run this season.
After the Orioles tallied three runs in the fourth, Seattle tacked on two more runs — the last on Jimenez’s balk, scoring Chris Iannetta.
Seattle scored three more times in the seventh on four consecutive hits — the last three on doubles by Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager (two RBI) and Adam Lind (RBI) off reliever Ariel Miranda to give the Mariners a 9-4 lead.
Giving up four runs in six-plus innings, Hisashi Iwakuma picked up his eighth victory this season.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Seth Smith has an unprecedented streak of power-hitting going. He not only homered for a fourth consecutive game for the first time in his career — he also hit his first grand slam. It came on an 0-2 pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez in the third inning to give the M’s a 4-0 lead.
PLUS: Seattle outslugged the AL’s top home-run hitting squad, 10-4, over the four games. … The Mariners had six more extra-base hits Sunday, totaling 23 for the four-game series — one short of the team record.
MINUS: Typically sure-handed Leonys Martin had three shaky plays in center field. Only one that was ruled an error — a fielding miscue in the fourth inning. He also lost a fly ball in the sun in the sixth inning that was ruled a double.
STAT PACK: It was the first time the Mariners swept a four-game series since 2012 (Kansas City). … With his leadoff double in fifth inning, Robinson Cano notched his ninth hit in 17 at-bats off Jimenez for his career (.529). … Over his past 13 games, Smith has 12 RBI. … The Mariners are now 7-0 at home against the AL East this season.
SHORT HOPS: First baseman Dae-Ho Lee (hand) did not play Sunday, but utility man Shawn O’Malley (ankle) did pinch hit in the eighth inning, striking out. Manager Scott Servais noted both ailments are minor. … Ace pitcher Felix Hernandez (calf) likely to report to Triple-A Tacoma during July 14-17 series at Cheney Stadium. … As it is unveiled during every home game, Ken Griffey Jr.’s countdown to Cooperstown is now 21 days away after Sunday.