Cruz's homer quest among Mariners stories to watch

Cruz's homer quest among Mariners stories to watch

OAKLAND -- As the Mariners hit the September home stretch, things obviously aren't where they'd like them to be with four weeks remaining. Their general manager has been dismissed, and their playoff hopes all but extinguished in a year that began with lofty expectations.

But there are games still to be played -- 28 to be exact -- and storylines still to be finished. If you're wondering what's left, here are five things worth watching in Seattle's closing contests of 2015:

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners erupt late to take series in Houston

Mariners erupt late to take series in Houston

HOUSTON -- The Mariners scored a pair of unearned runs in the eighth inning, taking advantage of a throwing error by reliever Pat Neshek to break a tie, and then added three more runs in the ninth on a Logan Morrison homer to beat the Astros, 8-3, on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Shawn O'Malley, making his Mariners debut, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including an RBI single in the eighth inning that broke a 3-3 tie. He scored Seattle's fifth run on a fielder's choice off the bat of pinch-hitter Seth Smith later in the inning. Morrison slammed a three-run homer in the ninth off Josh Fields for his second homer in as many nights.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

O'Malley's Mariners debut one to remember

September callup big Seattle fan as kid; plates deciding run

O'Malley's Mariners debut one to remember

HOUSTON -- For Shawn O'Malley, who grew up as a huge Mariners fan in Kennewick, Wash., the chance to drive in the game-winning run in a three-hit night in his debut with Seattle in Wednesday's 8-3 win over the Astros was one thing.

But returning to the dugout to be approached and coached by hitting instructor Edgar Martinez, well, that was just the cherry on the top of a perfect night at Minute Maid Park.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz strains quad on play at home vs. Astros

Cruz strains quad on play at home vs. Astros

HOUSTON -- Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz was removed from Wednesday night's 8-3 Seattle win over the Astros with a strained quad muscle in his right leg after getting thrown out at the plate in the top of the seventh inning, and his status is day to day as the club heads to Oakland for its next series on Friday.

Cruz was thrown out by Colby Rasmus trying to score on a flyout by Mark Trumbo, but he said he actually felt the muscle tighten up moments earlier when he hustled to third while teammate Kyle Seager was in a rundown after breaking for the plate on an infield chopper.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton exits Triple-A rehab start early

Paxton exits Triple-A rehab start early

HOUSTON -- Mariners left-hander James Paxton was removed from Wednesday's rehab start with Triple-A Tacoma due to a blister on his left middle finger after throwing 44 pitches.

Paxton was making his third rehab start for the Rainiers, at Salt Lake City, and was expected to join the Mariners on Friday in Oakland and return to their rotation next week, but that plan may now be in jeopardy.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Olmos set for second big league start

Olmos set for second big league start

Aaron Brooks and Edgar Olmos, two youngsters with six Major League starts between them, will face off Friday when the A's and Mariners open a three-game series at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland.

Brooks, a 25-year-old right-hander acquired from the Royals on July 28, will be making his fifth start of the season and second since being recalled last week to fill in for the injured Felix Doubront in the A's rotation.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners option Montero to Triple-A

First baseman will get needed playing time as Rainiers' season wraps up

Mariners option Montero to Triple-A

HOUSTON -- First baseman Jesus Montero, who hit .200 in 25 games for the Mariners over the past two months, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday so that he can get some at-bats in the final week of the Rainiers' season.

Tacoma has six games remaining before concluding play on Monday, and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Montero would rejoin the Major League club next Tuesday.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners adjust rotation for series vs. A's

Mariners adjust rotation for series vs. A's

HOUSTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has juggled his rotation for the upcoming series in Oakland, but he says he won't go with six starters despite having numerous candidates with the recent use of long relievers Vidal Nuno and Edgar Olmos as well as the impending return of James Paxton from the disabled list.

McClendon flip-flopped Olmos and Hisashi Iwakuma in the A's series, with Olmos now starting Friday's opener and Iwakuma slated to pitch Sunday. Felix Hernandez remains the Saturday starter after skipping his last turn through the rotation.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

LoMo's long ball sends Mariners past Astros

LoMo's long ball sends Mariners past Astros

HOUSTON -- Logan Morrison socked a two-run pinch-hit home run with two outs in the eighth inning off reliever Pat Neshek -- the third homer of the game for Seattle -- to break a tie and lead the Mariners to a 7-5 win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

"That was a lot of fun, especially here with the success they've had against us. Kind of exorcise the demons a little bit," said Morrison, whose Mariners had been outscored 57-26 while losing seven of eight previous games in Houston this season.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

LoMo makes most of chance to have impact

LoMo makes most of chance to have impact

HOUSTON -- It wasn't the easiest situation in a season that hasn't gone quite according to plan for Logan Morrison. Coming off the bench to pinch-hit in a tie game, top of the eighth, against side-arming sinkerballer Pat Neshek.

But Morrison, who has largely lost his playing time at first base in the second half of the season to Jesus Montero and Mark Trumbo, worked the count to 2-0 and then hammered a game-deciding two-run homer to right field in the Mariners' 7-5 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trumbo crushes 464-foot homer off train at MMP

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Trumbo crushes 464-foot homer off train at MMP

You know when you're rushing to catch a train to get out of the city for Labor Day Weekend? Well, one baseball wanted to get an early start on getting out of Houston during Tuesday's Mariners-Astros game. Maybe to visit some family, maybe for some other reason. We're really not sure because, as you know, baseballs don't talk. Unfortunately, this baseball was at home plate and the Minute Maid Park train was 464-feet away. Fortunately, Mark Trumbo was there to give it some help.

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Ramirez, Zych among Mariners' callups

Ramirez, Zych among Mariners' callups

HOUSTON -- Right-handed relievers Jose Ramirez and Tony Zych, infielder Shawn O'Malley and outfielder Stefen Romero were called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday as the Mariners took advantage of rosters expanding to begin their September callups.

Zych will be making his Major League debut, while the other three all have previously had brief stints in the Majors.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton among 7 Mariners to play in Fall League

Lefty reliever Rollins, No. 4 prospect Peterson also selected to Peoria

Paxton among 7 Mariners to play in Fall League

HOUSTON -- Left-hander James Paxton, who has missed much of the season with a strained middle finger on his throwing hand, was one of seven Mariners selected to play in the Arizona Fall League this offseason.

Paxton began the season as the Mariners' No. 2 starter, and he went 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts before going on the disabled list. He will make his third rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday in Salt Lake City and is expected to rejoin the Mariners' rotation next week, but the AFL will give him a chance to get in some additional work against some of baseball's top prospects in October and November.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trumbo knows success vs. Astros' Keuchel

Trumbo knows success vs. Astros' Keuchel

HOUSTON -- Not many Major League hitters have had much success recently against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, but Mariners first baseman Mark Trumbo seems to have found some answers. Trumbo became the first player to homer off Keuchel at Minute Maid Park in his last 17 starts in a two-homer game in Seattle's 8-3 loss on Monday night.

Trumbo provided all of Seattle's runs with his 2-for-4 day as he hiked his season home run total to 19, including 10 with the Mariners since being acquired from the D-backs on June 3.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Homers haunt Nuno as Mariners fall to Astros

Homers haunt Nuno as Mariners fall to Astros

HOUSTON -- There is nothing more automatic in baseball these days than Dallas Keuchel winning at Minute Maid Park. The Astros' All-Star left-hander remained unbeaten at home and became the American League's first 16-game winner by throwing seven strong innings and benefiting from three home runs to beat the Mariners, 8-3, on Monday night.

Keuchel (16-6) held the Mariners to six hits and one run -- a second-inning homer by Mark Trumbo -- to improve to 12-0 at Minute Maid Park this season. He also extended his club record by throwing at least six innings in his 38th consecutive start while throwing a season-high 121 pitches.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners send outfielder Jackson to Cubs

Seattle gets international slot bonus money, player to be named in deal

Mariners send outfielder Jackson to Cubs

HOUSTON -- Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson was dealt to the Cubs for a player to be named and $210,000 in international slot money on Monday afternoon in a deal consummated by assistant general manager Jeff Kingston, who is running the club for the remainder of the year following Jack Zduriencik's dismissal on Friday.

"Obviously we'd prefer to be buyers rather than sellers at this point," Kingston said. "But I think for us, at this point in time, it's more about the future and looking ahead. This gives us a chance to play Brad Miller more in center field down the stretch, Austin goes to the Cubs and can help them down the stretch, and we get some international slot money that will help [director of international operations] Tim Kissner and his group go sign some more good young players to help us for the future."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix to make next start Saturday vs. A's

Felix to make next start Saturday vs. A's

HOUSTON -- Felix Hernandez will make his next start Saturday in Oakland after the Mariners' ace was skipped from his normal start on Monday against the Astros as manager Lloyd McClendon looks to freshen Hernandez up for the final month of the season.

The 29-year-old right-hander has been one of baseball's most durable pitchers over most of his career and is on pace for his eighth consecutive season of 200-plus innings, and 10th straight of more than 190 innings.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners ship Ruggiano to Dodgers for cash

Mariners ship Ruggiano to Dodgers for cash

HOUSTON -- Outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who opened the season with the Mariners but has been in Triple-A Tacoma the past three months, was traded to the Dodgers on Monday night for cash.

Ruggiano, 33, is a seven-year Major League veteran with a career line of .255/.319/.427 in 434 games. He hit .214 with two homers and three RBIs in 36 games with Seattle before being designated for assignment and then outrighted to Tacoma in early June.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Error in 9th leads to finale loss for Mariners

Error in 9th leads to finale loss for Mariners

CHICAGO -- Tyler Saladino's single off reliever David Rollins scored Alexei Ramirez with the game-winning run in a 6-5 White Sox victory over the Mariners in 11 innings Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. Ramirez started the rally with a one-out single and moved to second when Tyler Flowers walked on four pitches, helping the White Sox earn a split in this four-game set.

"That was a fun win. The whole game, all the way through something was happening," Saladino said. "To pull it off at the end there, that was awesome."

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Griffey Jr. and Sr. played in MLB together 25 yrs ago

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Griffey Jr. and Sr. played in MLB together 25 yrs ago

Major League history is filled with prodigious bloodlines. Some, like Barry and Bobby Bonds, featured two generations of stars, while other families like the Bells, Boones and LaRoches, seem to have enough Major League players in their families to field their very own teams. 

But despite the 140-something years of Major League Baseball and the thousands of players to have put on a jersey, only one father-son duo ever took the field at the same time: On Aug. 31, 1990, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. did it for the Mariners. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Jackson on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Astros prospect homers thrice, on list for record-tying fourth time in 2015

Jackson on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

A.J. Reed is at it again. The Astros first-base prospect homered three more times and drove in seven more runs last week at Double-A Corpus Christi, earning Prospect Team of the Week honors for the fourth time in 2015. That ties Reed with Kyle Schwarber for the most recognition this year.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller's miscue one of three in tough setback

Errant throw on potential final out allows tying run to score

Miller's miscue one of three in tough setback

CHICAGO -- Brad Miller was in position to make the play at shortstop, getting down to cleanly field a routine ground ball off the bat of Carlos Sanchez. He stood up, planted his feet as he normally does, and fired a throw wide of first base.

And the moment it left his hand Miller knew he had missed first baseman Logan Morrison. His error ultimately cost the Mariners the lead and the win as they fell to the White Sox, 6-5, in 11 innings on Sunday.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Guaipe gets the call in latest bullpen shuffling

Montgomery sent to Triple-A to work on command

Guaipe gets the call in latest bullpen shuffling

CHICAGO -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has been patient with his bullpen this season while he waits for someone to entrench themselves in a role. But he'll have to wait a little longer as his relievers continue to work through a stretch in which they have been called on more than ever.

With his closer traded away and having to utilize his two primary setup relievers in August more than any other month, McClendon's latest test has been figuring out the best course for his bullpen. And he'll use two members with little starting experience as spot starters on Sunday and Monday.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seager, Jackson light a fuse atop the order

Collect six hits, five RBIs during finale loss in Chicago

Seager, Jackson light a fuse atop the order

CHICAGO -- Kyle Seager was frustrated when he entered Chicago, kept out of the starting lineup for just the third time this season. But he left U.S. Cellular Field in a better mood after his offensive performance over the weekend.

Along with Austin Jackson, Seager finished one hit shy of the cycle, but neither was able to complete the feat with their last at-bats as Seattle fell to the White Sox, 6-5, in 11 innings.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners to skip Felix's start on Monday

McClendon to give starters a break to stay fresh

Mariners to skip Felix's start on Monday

CHICAGO -- As the Mariners sit fourth in the American League West with just over a month remaining, manager Lloyd McClendon is looking to the future with his rotation.

Which is why McClendon will skip ace Felix Hernandez's next start in favor of leaving Hernandez fresh for September. He also plans to skip a start for Mike Montgomery on Sunday and Taijuan Walker in the upcoming future.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seager propels Mariners to second straight win

Seager propels Mariners to second straight win

CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija lost for a sixth time in six August starts, as the Mariners scored three in the first and never relinquished the lead during a 7-6 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field. The game was played under a fairly steady but light rain for most of the night, and the Mariners had to withstand a four-run rally from the White Sox with two outs in the eighth inning.

Kyle Seager's two-run homer put the Mariners on the board just two batters in, as the first four Mariners reached base. Samardzija was ahead at 1-2 on the first two hitters but couldn't put either one away. He finished with eight strikeouts and three walks to go with the five runs allowed over 5 2/3 innings.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hicks debuts in wake of Marte's injury

Catcher plays third after shortstop strains hamstring

Hicks debuts in wake of Marte's injury

CHICAGO -- John Hicks was in the bullpen Saturday night when he found out he would make his Major League debut at third base. So he stretched out and began to jog over to third base before he realized he was missing a crucial element: a fielder's mitt.

A catcher by trade, Hicks had arrived from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday with his catcher's mitt and a first baseman's mitt, so he had to borrow center fielder Brad Miller's glove. And he'd end up using it in the Mariners' 7-6 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Experience tops Seattle's criteria for new GM

Ability to build a knowledgeable team also among priorities

Experience tops Seattle's criteria for new GM

SEATTLE -- Now that the Mariners have made the decision to replace general manager Jack Zduriencik, the obvious question is what now?

For team president and chief operating officer Kevin Mather, the process of hiring the ninth GM in franchise history looms as the biggest challenge he's faced since he replaced Chuck Armstrong a year and a half ago.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zunino, Paxton getting back on track in Tacoma

Catcher sent down to regain confidence; lefty completing rehab

Zunino, Paxton getting back on track in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. -- Mike Zunino found out he was being optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday night in Chicago, arrived in Tacoma on Friday afternoon and 2 1/2 hours before the Rainiers' 8-3 win over Triple-A Nashville, the 24-year-old was already catching bullpens and signing autographs.

Friday night was his break. Zunino wasn't behind the plate to catch James Paxton's second Minor League rehab start, in which the left-hander allowed three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two over three innings, but he was at Cheney Stadium with a positive outlook on his first Minor League stint since 2013.

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Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker in fine form prior to injury

Works 6 1/3 scoreless frames before cramp in his right hip flexor

Walker in fine form prior to injury

CHICAGO -- Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was scared for a moment when he felt a cramp in his right hip flexor during the seventh inning Friday night against the White Sox. But the right-hander went into the clubhouse, stretched out and wasn't bothered by the pain any longer.

Unfortunately for Walker, it was too late to re-enter the Mariners' 2-0 victory. But he had already done enough to pick up his 10th victory.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.