CLEVELAND — Robinson Cano’s three-run homer in the 10th inning Thursday afternoon turned what could have been a long plane to Anaheim into something far more pleasant.
Cano’s blast lifted the Mariners to a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians after they squandered a five-run lead.
It was a 404-foot boomer through the rain with two outs to center field on a first-pitch fastball against a pitcher he was previously 0-for-7 against in his career: Indians closer Cody Allen.
"I wasn’t trying to hit a homer," Cano said. "But when you’re facing a guy like Allen, when you’re facing a closer, you want to take advantage when he throws one over the plate.
Steve Clevenger started the winning rally with a leadoff walk. Pinch-runner Luis Sardinas went to second on a one-out wild pitch and to third on Nori Aoki’s fly to center.
Allen (0-1) walked Franklin Gutierrez before Cano unloaded.
"I made a bad pitch to a good hitter," Allen said, "and he didn't miss it. I got beat by walking a couple of guys and getting into the meat of their order."
When Steve Cishek set down the Indians in the bottom of the inning, the Mariners had their fifth victory in seven games — and Tony Zych (1-0) had his first big-league the victory after working a scoreless ninth.
Before Cano’s heroics, however, this had the potential for a brutal loss.
Here, finally, the Mariners’ lineup came to life. They built a 5-0 lead through the early innings when their biggest concern seemed to be the weather:
Would the rain remain moderate long enough to complete the five innings necessary to make the game official?
Then when Cleveland stirred to life on Rajai Davis’ three-run homer in the fifth, the Mariners answered with two runs. The lead was back up to four.
It wasn’t enough.
Joaquin Benoit inherited a 7-5 lead to start the eighth inning and issued a leadoff walk to Marlon Byrd after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. That walk would haunt.
Benoit retired the next two hitters before Mike Napoli, batting for Roberto Perez, crushed a 2-0 meatball — a hanging slider on a tee in the middle of the plate — for a two-run homer.
"It was kind of a spinner," Clevenger admitted. "He didn’t make the pitch. Nine out of 10 times, he throws a good slider right there and we get him out. But he hung it."
It was the first pinch homer of Napoli’s career, and the first runs surrendered this year by Benoit.
"That was a roller-coaster," manager Scott Servais said. "Sitting on a 5-0 lead and swinging the bats pretty good. I thought we were going to have a little easier one."
Mariners starter Nathan Karns was rolling along with that five-run lead and a two-hit shutout when he walked Perez on a borderline full-count pitch with one out in the fifth inning.
Tyler Naquin followed with an infield single before Davis drove a first-pitch fastball just far enough to left for a three-run homer. That quickly, a five-run lead was down to 5-3.
"That’s the only pitch I really regret throwing," Karns said. "I worked myself into a position to get a double-play ball, and I gave a fastball to a fastball hitter. It probably wasn’t the best call."
The Mariners got two of those runs back in the sixth when Cano rammed a two-out RBI double off the left-field wall before scoring on Nelson Cruz’s single through shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Karns couldn’t make it through the sixth. The Indians had a run in and a runner at third with one out when the Mariners brought in Nick Vincent, who immediately surrendered an RBI single to Lonnie Chisenhall.
That made it 7-5.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Ketel Marte made a lunging grab to catch Marlon Byrd’s leadoff line drive in the second inning.
Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor made a similar play on Nori Aoki’s two-out liner in the seventh inning. Lindor’s play saved a run, which would have give the Mariners an 8-5 lead.
PLUS: Steve Clevenger’s two-run homer in the second inning staked the Mariners to an early lead. He also contributed a single to a three-run fourth and started the winning rally with a walk…closer Steve Cishek had his second one-two-three inning for a save…Adam Lind had singles that started a two-run second inning and a three-run third…the Mariners tied a season high with 14 hits. Every starter had at least one hit.
MINUS: Kyle Seager made the final out in three innings with runners in scoring position…Leonys Martin got picked off first base by the catcher in the fifth inning.
STAT PACK: Robinson Cano’s homer was his sixth of the season, which pulled him (at least temporarily) into a tie with Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson for the most among American League players…the Indians were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners had given up only three hits in the previous 50 at-bats when their opponents had runners in scoring position…the Mariners have won all three of their road series 2-1…the Mariners are 5-0 when they score at least four runs.
QUOTABLE: Reliever Tony Zych endured the customary post-game "shower" in recognition of his first major-league victory.
"A little bit of an ice bath," he said. "There was…I don’t even know what was in there. I put my head down and got crushed."
SHORT HOPS: The grounds crew at Progressive Field hustled their way through a quick fix of the rain-soaked mound and the batter’s box in the fourth inning with the Tribe trailing by five runs. That doesn’t happen everywhere when the home club is trailing… the attendance of 11,525, which sat through rain for much of the game, was the largest of the series. The first two games drew 9,393 and 9,890.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners