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Felix stung by four Nats homers in series opener

Homer total marks career high for Hernandez in first start vs. Nationals

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Felix stung by four Nats homers in series opener play video for Felix stung by four Nats homers in series opener

SEATTLE -- On a night the Mariners needed a win to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, starter Felix Hernandez allowed a career-high four home runs, and the usually stout Seattle bullpen allowed two more in Friday night's 8-3 loss to the Nationals at Safeco Field.

Working on six days' rest after having his scheduled Wednesday start pushed back, Hernandez gave up five runs over seven rocky innings and struck out just one. With the loss, the ace right-hander dropped to 13-5 on the season while his ERA went from 2.07 to 2.23.

"We ask a lot of him, we expect a lot of him. I think he's up for the challenge, but he's human and the other team is getting paid too, so it's gonna happen," said interim manager Trent Jewett, who was in his first of two games in charge while Lloyd McClendon attends his daughter's wedding in Indiana.

"I know eventually the question is going to come up about pushing [Hernandez] back, but I think Lloyd [McClendon] did it for a long-term move, not just for Felix, for everybody," Jewett said. "It was looking at things long-term and the workload and bouncing back and so forth. We'll see the benefits from it in the days to come."

For now, the loss dropped the 72-61 Mariners a game behind the Tigers, who beat the White Sox 7-1 on Friday, for the final AL postseason berth. Seattle has lost 10 straight games to the Nationals, dating back to 2005.

The onslaught started early.

The Nationals jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Hernandez gave up a solo home run to Anthony Rendon. In the third frame, Jayson Werth hit a two-run blast into the bullpen in left-center field to make it 3-2.

The Nats continued pounding Hernandez in the fourth.

Leading off, Ian Desmond hit a solo shot on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. Later in the inning, Wilson Ramos added a home run of his own to make it 5-2.

"It was a tough day. I couldn't get out of the middle of the plate the first four innings," Hernandez said. "I was up and I got crushed.

"Everything was off."

Hernandez finished with three scoreless innings, but that wasn't enough. Asked if pitching on the seventh day instead of the usual five threw off his routine, Hernandez was succinct.

"Not at all," he said.

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs over six innings while improving to 10-5. He struck out eight, walked one and worked out of multiple jams after allowing two runs in the first inning.

Down, 1-0, Dustin Ackley rallied the Mariners with a one-out triple. Robinson Cano followed with a walk, then Kendrys Morales hit a sharp RBI single that glanced off the glove of first baseman Adam LaRoche and into shallow right field, advancing Cano to third.

The next hitter, Kyle Seager, worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a chopper down the third-base line that Rendon fielded before throwing wide of second base. Seager was credited with a single and Cano came around to score to give the Mariners a 2-1 advantage.

But they couldn't add on.

In the third, the Mariners put runners on first and third with one out when Cano singled, then Morales followed with a single on a hit-and-run, but Seager and Mike Zunino struck out to end the inning.

In the fifth, Ackley and Cano hit back-to-back, one-out singles, putting runners on first and second, but Morales and Seager popped out.

"I don't know that he made a whole lot of adjustments. In the first couple innings, we hit some balls hard. He kept pouring it in the strike zone, that's what he does," Jewett said of Zimmermann. "That's typically his outing. He's gonna keep coming after you, and he did it again tonight."

The Nationals added two more in the eighth when Ramos and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back solo home runs off Joe Beimel to make it 7-2. Appearing in a rare-non save situation in the top of the ninth, closer Fernando Rodney allowed a LaRoche sacrifice fly that gave Washington an 8-2 lead.

The Mariners made one final push in the ninth.

Endy Chavez hit a two-out RBI double in the ninth inning to cut the lead to 8-3. Then Austin Jackson singled. But Ackley lined out to center field to end the game.

"We know that things aren't going to be easy," Cano said. "We got to fight all the way through the end. Tough game. Bad game… It's not like we made a lot of errors or anything like that. They beat us. They scored a lot of runs, nothing else you can do."

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Jones returns to Mariners; Ramirez optioned

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SEATTLE -- The Mariners optioned pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday and recalled outfielder James Jones.

Ramirez, 24, allowed 10 runs and lasted just three innings Wednesday against the Rangers after being recalled for a spot start, as the Mariners fell, 12-4. In six stints with Seattle this season, Ramirez went 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 starts.

Jones is being recalled to the big leagues for the fourth time in 2014. In 83 games with the Mariners, he is hitting .256 with eight doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. In 37 games with Tacoma, he hit .282 with six doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

"He'll be in a supporting role. There's an opportunity for him to get the job done," said Mariners interim manager Trent Jewett. "You know him. Great energy. Great student. He'll be a nice addition to the ball club."

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{"content":["injury" ] }

After battling infection, Saunders works out at Safeco

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After battling infection, Saunders works out at Safeco play video for After battling infection, Saunders works out at Safeco

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Michael Saunders returned to Safeco Field on Friday for an on-field workout and said he's feeling healthier after recovering from a viral infection he got while on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter.

He also revealed he caught the viral infection, Fifth Disease, from his daughter.

It caused him to lose 12 pounds. He said he wouldn't wish the infection "on his worst enemy."

"It was like the flu on steroids, plus arthritis," he added.

While he was sick, Saunders didn't eat for four or five days, but tried to stay hydrated.

"I was in pretty rough condition there, but I've turned a page for the better now and am definitely working my way back," he said.

Last weekend, Saunders was officially recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma.

He said he's slowly regaining his appetite and energy, but there's no current timetable for when he might return to the big leagues. He still needs to regain his strength, according to general manager Jack Zduriencik.

"This is what I said to him today, 'Michael we would love to have you here, we want you here, but we also want Michael Saunders here,'" Zduriencik said. "'We don't want 70 percent of Michael Saunders or 80 percent of Michael Saunders.'"

On Friday, Saunders hit in the cage and played catch a few hours before the Mariners opened a three-game series against the Nationals.

Saunders, 27, was hitting .276 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 65 games for the Mariners when he went on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain July 11.

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Elias hopes to give Mariners boost in Wild Card race

Seattle looks to even series after Washington's offensive onslaught

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Elias hopes to give Mariners boost in Wild Card race play video for Elias hopes to give Mariners boost in Wild Card race

After maintaining a six-game lead in the National League East Friday night with a series-opening win against the Mariners fueled by six home runs, the Nationals will send right-hander Stephen Strasburg to the mound for Saturday night's rematch at Safeco Field.

Strasburg will look to bounce back from a poor performance against the Giants at home on Sunday, when he allowed five runs on eight hits, including two home runs. In his previous two starts, Strasburg has surrendered one earned run over 15 innings.

"I was making dumb pitches," Strasburg said Sunday. "You want to challenge them, but at the same time you have to focus on hitting your spots. I really wasn't doing that."

Strasburg will face off against rookie southpaw Roenis Elias (9-11, 4.01 ERA), who is starting in place of Chris Young. Elias was originally scheduled to pitch Monday against the A's in Oakland, but the Mariners likely moved his start up to provide Young with some rest. With more than 150 innings pitched so far this season, Young, 35, is on an innings pace he hasn't encountered since 2007.

In his last time out on Monday, Elias went fewer than six innings for the eighth consecutive start. He surrendered one earned run on three hits and four walks over five innings in a home loss to the Rangers.

"He was his own worst enemy tonight," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Elias' outing. "He battled the whole night with himself, command. I'm not sure what's going on. Can't quite put my finger on it, but we got to get him straightened out. He's got to go deeper into ballgames."

Nationals: Zimmerman progressing well through rehab
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who's been on the disabled list for more than a month because of a Grade 3 right hamstring strain, received MRI results on his injured right leg on Friday, and the test yielded positive results, according to manager Matt Williams.

Zimmerman has started jogging lightly while throwing every other day. His next steps will be running at full speed, running the bases and finally taking batting practice, Williams said. The first-year skipper still expects a late September return date for the right-handed slugger.

"He is making the progress that he should make," Williams said. "The strength will increase now that he could start pushing it. ... Once he feels good about that, he can get out and start running and doing some sprint work, all the while being mindful that you don't want to push it too hard. If you lose him, you lose him for good at this point."

Mariners: Jones recalled from Triple-A
The Mariners optioned pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday and recalled James Jones. The outfielder didn't see any action in the Mariners' loss to the Nationals that night.

Ramirez allowed 10 runs over three innings Wednesday against the Rangers in a spot start, as the Mariners fell, 12-4. In six stints with Seattle this season, Ramirez has gone 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 starts.

Jones was recalled to the big leagues for the fourth time in 2014. In 83 games with the Mariners, he is hitting .256 with eight doubles, four triples and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. In 37 games with Tacoma, he hit .282 with six doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

"He'll be in a supporting role. There's an opportunity for him to get the job done," said Mariners interim manager Trent Jewett. "You know him. Great energy. Great student. He'll be a nice addition to the ballclub."

Worth Noting
• The Nationals announced the signing of a two-year player development contract extension with Class A Hagerstown on Friday.

• By Monday, the Nationals are expected to call up right-handers Blake Treinen and Aaron Barrett and outfielder Michael Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse.

• Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders returned to Safeco Field on Friday for an on-field workout. He reported feeling healthier after recovering from a viral infection he came down with while on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter.

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Mariners address reports of Montero incident

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Mariners address reports of Montero incident

SEATTLE -- The specific details of what occurred between Mariners Minor Leaguer Jesus Montero and Seattle scout Butch Baccala on Thursday night in Boise might forever remain unknown to a large portion of the public.

What is known, however, is that the actions of both men, who by all reported accounts were in a loud and profane altercation in the stands of a Class A Northwest League ballpark, have been deemed unacceptable by the Seattle organization.

And what is also known is that Montero will not be playing baseball in the Mariners organization for the remainder of this season and that the club would like him to address the issues that have led to this incident and other disappointing developments over the last few years.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik initially released a statement on Friday afternoon that communicated the team's disappointment in the incident and indicated that disciplinary action of some degree is to be expected as a result, and later expanded in an interview session with reporters at Safeco Field, where the Mariners prepared to take on the Washington Nationals.

Montero, a 24-year-old first baseman with Triple-A Tacoma who was rehabbing an oblique strain with short-season Everett, was coaching first base while an inning came to a close at Memorial Stadium in the Idaho city, which serves as the home for the Hawks, an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Boise official scorer Liza Safford told MiLB.com that Baccala, an intermediate scout known as a cross-checker, began yelling at Montero to hustle off the field, and then had an ice cream sandwich delivered to Montero in the dugout.

Montero, a one-time top-ranked prospect who came to Seattle in the Jan. 2012 trade from the Yankees for heralded pitching prospect Michael Pineda, had disappointed Seattle's front office by being suspended for PEDs in 2013 and then showing up at this year's Spring Training 40 pounds overweight and telling reporters, "After winter ball, all I did was eat."

The ice cream sandwich-in-the-dugout stunt set Montero off, according to Safford. The first baseman located Baccala in the stadium stands, and, while holding a bat and screaming obscenities, threw the sandwich at the scout. Safford told MiLB.com that Montero had to be restrained by Everett pitching coach Nasusel Cabrera.

Zduriencik said in his initial statement that he received a call at around 9:30 p.m. on Thursday informing him of the altercation, and he immediately began his own internal investigation. On Friday at Safeco, he revealed the results of these findings.

"We are extremely disappointed in both of their actions," Zduriencik said, without detailing the specifics of the altercation. "It is unacceptable. This organization doesn't condone that type of behavior. It is being addressed as we speak. There are no excuses for either party. We have none. We don't intend to make any. It's something that is extremely disappointing and embarrassing for the organization and for those two individuals."

In the original statement, Zduriencik apologized to the fans in attendance and to the Boise Hawks.

"We recognize that fans, including children, were impacted by this incident, and [inappropriate] language … was used," Zduriencik's statement read. "We recognize the severity of this incident, and want to assure the Hawks and their fans that it will be dealt with appropriately. In addition, I want to thank Todd Rahr, president and general manager of the Boise Hawks, for his assistance in helping me ascertain what occurred last night.

On Friday in Seattle, Zduriencik gave the basics of a blueprint for how the club will handle the aftermath of the incident with the two men.

Of Montero, Zduriencik said, "He is not going to participate in anymore baseball the rest of the year with us. That's just the way it is. It's not going to happen."

He added: "What we intend to do and what we are in the process of doing in terms of Jesus Montero is we are going to separate the baseball part of Jesus Montero from the human element part of Jesus Montero. Our intent is to address Jesus' issues.

"There's a history here of things that have happened. We are very, very disappointed in him. I think more than anything else, from a human standpoint, we have to look at Jesus Montero as a person, as a father and as a husband and how can we help Jesus Montero and his family get through this? That's our intent. That's our first and foremost intent.

"We are in the process as we speak. We are going to continue to do that. We have avenues that we intend to go down. And we will have in-depth conversations with Jesus and his family on how we can help him go on with his life. At the end of the day, we all hope that Jesus Montero becomes a big league player and a good big league player. But if that is not the case, then we certainly hope we help Jesus Montero to grow up and be a man and be the kind of father and the kind of husband that he needs."

Baccala, 52, was contacted by The Seattle Times via phone on Friday and told the newspaper that the reports of the incident are not wholly accurate and that he wouldn't be able to elaborate until he spoke with Zduriencik.

"It's not what is being portrayed," Baccala told the newspaper, adding that he was not trying to provoke Montero into any retaliation.

"Of course I wasn't," Baccala said. "Why would I? I work for the Mariners. I've worked my [tail] off for the Mariners. Why would I do anything to hurt anybody? That wasn't even close to the intention.''

Zduriencik's statement said that Baccala "has returned to his home in the Bay Area where he will remain until further notice."

On Friday, Zduriencik said he was not yet prepared to comment on Baccala's future with the organization because he was still looking into the incident.

"We have a lot of information," Zduriencik said. "We've had a lot of conversations. I have talked to Butch myself personally. ... We'll make sure that we dot every I and cross every T. It's something that we intend to fix. And we intend to address both parties accordingly."

Zduriencik also said that he had not yet spoken to Montero.

"I'll wait until he comes back and I'll have my conversation with him face-to-face," Zduriencik said. "There's always two sides to a story, but it really doesn't matter. This incident is of the magnitude that either party should have been more under control. Either party should have been more professional. …

"In the end, I would view this as saying both parties are wrong."

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Nats have call at first overturned vs. Mariners

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SEATTLE -- Thanks to a replay review, manager Matt Williams had a call overturned in favor of the Nationals.

In the second inning, with runners on first and second, Wilson Ramos lined out to Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who doubled off Bryce Harper at first base. But Williams went to first-base umpire Corey Blaser and challenged the call. In 54 seconds, the call was overturned and Harper remained on first base.

However, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a double play to end the threat.

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Mariners prospect Diaz impresses in Class A victory

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Right-hander Edwin Diaz, the Mariners' No. 7 prospect, threw five hitless innings and combined with two relievers for a one-hit shutout Friday, as the Class A Clinton LumberKings defeat the Quad Cities River Bandits, 1-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.

Diaz began the game by walking leadoff batter Marc Wik. After Wik was thrown out trying to steal second, Diaz issued walks to the next two batters as well. He escaped the early jam with a pair of strikeouts, the first of 14 straight batters he retired.

Diaz finished his outing with a season-high nine strikeouts and three walks in five innings.

Left-hander Paul Fry relieved Diaz to start the sixth inning. After a strikeout and a walk to start the inning, Quad Cities right fielder Ryan Bottger broke up the no-hitter with a one-out double. He nearly ended the shutout as well, but right fielder Tyler O'Neill and first baseman Jeff Zimmerman combined to throw out Wik, who was trying to score from first base after his second walk of the game.

After the double, right-hander Emilio Pagan came on for the final four outs. He struck out two batters and walked one to earn his 15th save of the season.

Diaz picked up the victory, improving to 6-8 with a 3.33 ERA. The 20-year old has struck out 111 batters and walked 42 in 116 1/3 innings this season.

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After fixing mechanics, Ackley looking like new hitter

Outfielder finds success after a rocky first half forced a swing adjustment

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After fixing mechanics, Ackley looking like new hitter play video for After fixing mechanics, Ackley looking like new hitter

SEATTLE -- For the record, Lloyd McClendon doesn't know if Dustin Ackley is more confident now than earlier this season.

But the Mariners manager does have a new nickname that reflects his stoic left fielder's barely-groomed black beard and North Carolina upbringing.

"I understand your question, but the 'Mountain Man' is a hard guy to read," McClendon said earlier this week. "Heck, he looks at me sometimes, I think he's looking right through me."

More clear is Ackley's penchant for finding his rhythm at the plate as the season chugs along.

This is the second consecutive year Ackley is quietly doing his Jekyll and Hyde routine, hitting at a high clip after a prolonged first-half slump nearly derailed his season before the All-Star break.

In 2013, Ackley's struggles mandated a demotion to Triple-A. This year, it led to a swing change.

"I think my swing over those early months wasn't where it needed to be," Ackley said of his slow start to the year. "It wasn't that I wasn't looking for fastballs. It was that I was looking for them, but I wasn't hitting them and my swing wasn't in position to do that."

Ask Ackley, and he'll tell you the turnaround was about improving his mechanics more than changing his approach. He'll tell you it was about being selectively aggressive, about not missing pitches when he gets into hitters' counts -- 2-0, 2-1 -- about being able to hit the ball to all fields and feeling comfortable with two strikes.

If that sounds comprehensive, that's because it is. Ackley is working with hitting coach Howard Johnson to address what some perceive as a weakness -- hitting pitches on the outer half of the plate.

"Once I started tinkering with some stuff and kind of just figuring out how to drive the ball the other way and staying on pitches, it all seemed to work out better and I was able to compete," Ackley said.

It's also helping Ackley turn on pitches, as evidenced last weekend by his three-run homer that curled around Fenway Park's "Pesky Pole" in a 7-3 win over the Red Sox.

"I've been pitched in a lot here the past couple weeks," he said. "It's one of those things where the better your swing is the other way, the better you're going to be pulling the ball."

After a three-game stint as the leadoff hitter in late July, Ackley was dropped to the No. 2 spot in the lineup when the Mariners traded for leadoff-hitting center fielder Austin Jackson.

Since the move, Seattle is 16-8 in August and averaging close to five runs per game, which bodes well for a club that owns a 55-11 record when it scores four or more. Ackley this month has driven 19 of his career-high 55 RBIs. Since July 1, a day he entered with a .214 batting average, he is hitting .313 with 14 doubles, a triple, five home runs, 28 RBIs and a .486 slugging percentage.

Even after dropping two of three games to Texas earlier this week, the Mariners, at 72-60, entered Thursday with a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second American League Wild Card spot with 30 games left in the regular season. With the Tigers' win over the Yankees, the two clubs are now tied for the second Wild Card spot going into Friday.

They began Thursday seven games behind the AL-West leading Angels and six back of the Athletics. After a weekend series against the Nationals to close out August, the Mariners and A's open a three-games series Monday at O.co Coliseum.

Seattle has six September matchups with Oakland and seven with Anaheim, including a three-game series against the Angels at Safeco Field to close out the season.

Ackley said the Mariners are still aiming for the division title.

"It's definitely not out of the question. I think if we continue to play how we've been playing, who knows what could happen," Ackley said. "Teams get on rough stretches, and if we got on a good one, who knows where we could be."

The 26-year-old's quiet confidence hasn't gone unnoticed.

"You can tell by the way he plays the game. He's a guy that comes here early, works hard and just goes about his business," said teammate Robinson Cano. "He really cares about the game."

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Mariners lock up Dominican prospect Torres

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Mariners lock up Dominican prospect Torres play video for Mariners lock up Dominican prospect Torres

The Mariners signed Dominican teenage shortstop Christopher Torres to a contract with a signing bonus worth $375,000, according to an industry source.

Torres, ranked No. 18 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, joins a group of signees that includes outfielder Brayan Hernandez (ranked No. 8), Dominican catcher Ismerlin Mota and 11 other international prospects in Seattle's system since the signing period began on July 2.

Hernandez signed for $1.85 million and Mota signed a $295,000 deal, respectively.

The club did not confirm all of the signings.

Torres is a switch-hitting shortstop who might be a better left-handed hitter overall, but he has shown more power when he bats right-handed. When healthy, he can drive the ball to the opposite field and has shown plate discipline.

Praised for his defense, Torres is believed to have the potential for a plus arm. However, he was slowed by an arm injury during the summer. Torres is also an above-average runner with the potential to become a basestealer.

Torres played in his country's RBI League, Major League Baseball's Prospect League and the International Prospect League in the Dominican Republic. Orlando Mazara, who trained Torres, claimed his player had an oral agreement with Yankees for more than $2 million, but the club has repeatedly denied a deal was in place. In all, the Yanks signed 27 international prospects, including several players on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, since the international period began.

Mazara also claimed to have received an initial offer of $1.6 million from the Mariners.

In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team's record in 2013 for the international signing period, which started on July 2.

Seattle's bonus pool total for this year's signing period is $3,440,700. Including Torres, the club has spent an estimated $3.55 million during the signing period, which puts them in the penalty.

Teams that exceed the pools by up to 5 percent have to pay a 100 percent tax, and teams that exceed the pools by 5 to 10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period, and they must pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10 to 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period and have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.

In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by more than 15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Despite strong August, Cano not feeling sharp

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Despite strong August, Cano not feeling sharp play video for Despite strong August, Cano not feeling sharp

SEATTLE -- While Robinson Cano was hitting .313 with five home runs in August going into Wednesday's series finale with the Rangers, the Mariners' second baseman said he hasn't felt great at the plate of late despite those numbers.

Cano was 2-for-12 in his last four games and had to come out of Sunday's victory in Boston in the fourth inning when he became sick with a flu bug that had sidelined teammate Logan Morrison the previous day. But Cano hasn't missed a game since July 20 and continued to lead the Mariners and rank fourth in the American League with a .326 batting average.

The Mariners haven't had anyone finish a season above .315 since Ichiro Suzuki batted .352 in 2009.

"Lately, I don't feel like I've been doing what I want," Cano said Tuesday after hitting his 12th homer of the season in a 1-for-3 effort. "I've been chasing pitches and been out front a lot. When I'm not late, I'm out front. I don't feel like I'm 100 percent staying back. But those things happen in the game."

It says much about Cano that he's continued producing even when not feeling his best.

"I made the analogy probably a month ago. He's like a prolific scorer in the NBA," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "You don't think he's done anything and you look up and he's got 23 or 24 points. I liken Robbie to that type of guy. He just gets it done. A lot of times it doesn't look pretty or flashy, but at the end of the day, his numbers are right there.

"He's been grinding it out a little lately. He was probably a little jumpy at the beginning of the last road trip. But he's fine."

McClendon had Cano as the designated hitter on Wednesday to give him a little break, with an off-day Thursday before Seattle plays 30 games in the final 31 days.

"That's to clean him up, get him off his legs," McClendon said. "He's got tomorrow off, then he should be ready for the stretch after that."

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McClendon to miss two games for daughter's wedding

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SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon will miss the club's next two games on Friday and Saturday against the Nationals while attending his daughter Schenell's wedding in Chesterton, Ind.

Schenell, 31, is the older of McClendon's two children.

Bench coach Trent Jewett will run the team in McClendon's absence. The first-year Mariners skipper has guided the club to a 72-60 record going into Friday's series against the National League East-leading Nationals.

Jewett, 50, is in his seventh season as a Major League coach, and first with the Mariners. He spent the past three seasons with the Nationals, first as their first-base coach in 2011-12, and then as third-base coach last year.

Jewett spent 17 seasons managing in the Minor Leagues, including 12 seasons at the Triple-A level, and has a career record of 1,178-1,166.

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Erasmo roughed up as Mariners thumped by Texas

Righty allows 10 runs in three-plus innings in return to big leagues

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Erasmo roughed up as Mariners thumped by Texas play video for Erasmo roughed up as Mariners thumped by Texas

SEATTLE -- After choosing to push Felix Hernandez's next outing back to Friday in order to give the Mariners ace some extra rest before the September stretch run, fill-in starter Erasmo Ramirez got rocked by the Rangers in a 12-4 loss on Wednesday at Safeco Field.

Ramirez gave up 10 runs on nine hits with one walk and a hit batter in three-plus innings as Seattle allowed more than nine runs in a game for the first time this season.

"When it's like that, nobody is going to be happy," Ramirez said. "I'm not happy. I was trying to do good every time they called me and then go back down to [Triple-A] Tacoma and do my work. But I don't know. How they say, it's baseball. You don't know what's going to happen.

"I was feeling good, I was just missing my spots and maybe I used too many fastballs. I tried to get ahead with my fastball, but now the damage is already done."

The lopsided defeat snapped a string of 14 straight home games in which the Mariners had allowed three runs or fewer, which was the third-longest such streak by a Major League team since 1960.

The 12 runs also ended a Mariners record of 144 consecutive games without allowing 10 or more runs in a game, dating back to a 12-2 loss at St. Louis last September. That streak was the seventh longest in American League history and the longest since a 194-game stretch by the Yankees in 1975-76.

Seattle fell to 72-60, but it holds a half-game lead on Detroit for the second American League Wild Card spot after the Tigers lost to the Yankees, 8-4.

Manager Lloyd McClendon chose to bring Ramirez up from Tacoma for his sixth stint with the Mariners this season in part to give all of his starters two extra days of rest -- when combined with Thursday's off-day -- before the club plays 30 games in the final 31 days of the season.

But McClendon also felt Ramirez had earned another shot after his recent success at Tacoma, where he went 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA over his last 10 starts. But after a 1-2-3 first inning, the 24-year-old right-hander gave up four runs in each of the second and third frames and was replaced by Dominic Leone after surrendering two more hits leading off the fourth.

"I was encouraged after the first inning, but for some reason he started getting the ball up in the zone," said McClendon. "That's not a good thing against any team. He threw strikes; they just hit them. He threw bad strikes. He wasn't down in the zone. I think he was trying to be aggressive, he just didn't have it."

Ramirez, who was facing the Rangers for the third time this season, had held them scoreless for five innings in a June meeting, but Texas knew what to expect and took advantage.

"He's always filling the strike zone," said Rangers skipper Ron Washington, "and today we didn't miss some pitches."

Ramirez hasn't won since the second game of the season when he held the Angels to two runs in seven innings in Anaheim, as he's now 1-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 14 starts.

Two bases-loaded hits were the big blows by Texas, with catcher Tomas Telis driving in three runs with a double in the second on a ball that popped out of right fielder Logan Morrison's glove as he collided with the wall. Rookie second baseman Rougned Odor then applied the crusher in the third with a grand slam to right field.

Morrison was kicking himself for not hanging on to Telis' drive.

"I squeezed it, but the wall popped it out of my glove," Morrison said. "That kind of sums up the day, I guess. I make that play and no runs score, we see what happens. I don't make that play and three runs scored and it's a different game. And, obviously, from there it got worse. That's a play I need to make."

McClendon was more forgiving and noted that Morrison, who is primarily a first baseman, came back and made a nice diving catch to rob Jim Adduci in the seventh.

"That was a very difficult play," McClendon said of the wall banger. "You're trying to catch and avoid the wall. I'm not sure if Endy Chavez would have had that or anybody else. That's just a tough play. He gave a great effort, then he came back and made a great play on the dive. The thing I always say on those, the mistake was made at 60-feet, six-inches -- not 400 feet away."

Catcher Mike Zunino provided the Mariners' first run against right-hander Colby Lewis with a solo blast in the second inning. Zunino's 19th home run of the year ties him with with Miguel Olivo for the club record for a catcher, set in 2011.

Kyle Seager reclaimed the team lead with his 20th home run in the bottom of the ninth. Kendrys Morales added a two-run double in the sixth, but that was all the damage done against Lewis, who improved to 9-11 with the complete-game victory.

McClendon wasn't about to second-guess his decision to start Ramirez, taking the longer-term view of setting up the rest of his rotation for the final-month push.

"It was an unfortunate loss, but it was the right thing to do," he said. "That game is over with. We got our butts kicked. That happens. It hasn't happened very often to us this year. We've just been that good with our pitching."

"We just have to flush it," said left fielder Dustin Ackley. "We know what our pitching is going to do the rest of the way out. Today wasn't a reflection of what we've done all year on the mound, and I think Friday will be a different story."

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Mariners option Paxton to make room for Erasmo

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Mariners option Paxton to make room for Erasmo play video for Mariners option Paxton to make room for Erasmo

SEATTLE -- Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was officially recalled by the Mariners on Wednesday to start against the Rangers, with rookie southpaw James Paxton optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot on the 25-man roster.

Paxton isn't scheduled to pitch again until next Tuesday in Oakland, at which point he can be recalled when rosters are expanded with September callups.

Ramirez was 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts for Seattle this season over five stints with the club, as he's split the season between the Mariners and Rainiers. The 24-year-old had a 1.15 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings over his last six starts in the Majors, though he's given up 23 hits and 19 walks in that stretch.

Ramirez opened the season as the Mariners' No. 2 starter with Hisashi Iwakuma on the disabled list and Chris Young and Roenis Elias still unknown commodities. He won his opener against the Angels on April 1 with seven innings of two-run ball, but hasn't had a big league victory since.

The Nicaraguan native pitched well recently in Tacoma, going 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA his last 10 starts and 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four August outings.

"I've seen a lot of growth," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "The command of the fastball is a lot better, his secondary stuff is more crisp. I don't think he's pitching away from bats any more. He's making quality pitches with two strikes. He's come a long way. This is a very deserving opportunity for him."

Ramirez's spot start, combined with Thursday's off-day, allows the rest of the rotation to get an extra two days of rest before their next starts and the start of the September stretch run.

"This move was made more because of what he's done and how he's pitched at Triple-A," McClendon said. "It afforded us the opportunity to back the other guys up. I'm really happy for him. I think he's come a long way."

McClendon didn't rule out a scenario in which Ramirez could remain in the rotation going forward if he pitches well.

"That's very possible. Absolutely," he said. "I would say it's Plan B. It's definitely in effect. We'll see how things go. But it's a definite option and one we'd be very comfortable with."

Paxton will remain in the rotation and slide right back in when he's recalled next week. The 25-year-old has been outstanding when healthy, and he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday. Paxton is now 7-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 career starts, and 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in seven outings this season.

The only other Major League pitchers to debut since 1944 with at least seven wins and an ERA lower than Paxton's 1.71 mark in their first 11 career starts were Steve Rogers (7-3, 1.28 ERA in 1973 with the Expos) and Phil Niekro (8-3, 1.20 ERA in 1967 with the Braves).

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Miller making successful transition to utility role

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Miller making successful transition to utility role play video for Miller making successful transition to utility role

SEATTLE -- Since losing the starting shortstop job to rookie Chris Taylor last month, Brad Miller has begun adapting more to a utility role, and that transition now has him ready to play in the outfield if needed.

With veteran Willie Bloomquist out for the season following knee surgery, Miller has been working at all of the other infield spots, including first base, and nearly got the call in right field in Wednesday's series finale against Texas.

Instead, manager Lloyd McClendon put Miller at second base to give Robinson Cano a breather as the designated hitter. But McClendon said he's close to playing Miller in the outfield -- even though the youngster has never played there in his professional career.

"He's doing everything Bloomquist did," McClendon said. "It's a very valuable asset and he's more than capable of doing those things. He's a good athlete, and I don't think first base would be much of a transition for him at all. In fact, I gave serious thought to playing him in the outfield today. Our outfield coach is very confident is his ability to play the outfield."

McClendon said having a quality utility player is critical.

"We had him and he got hurt," he said. "We're trying to develop another one, and hopefully it turns out OK. It's a really a valuable asset and something we've been very concerned about. It just goes to show you how fragile things are. You're riding the high horse and think you're doing great, but you're one injury away from everything [being in trouble]. He's a very valuable piece right now."

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Paxton cruises as Mariners blank Rangers

Lefty allows four singles over 6 2/3; Cano's HR sparks rout

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Paxton cruises as Mariners blank Rangers play video for Paxton cruises as Mariners blank Rangers

SEATTLE -- As the Mariners hit the stretch run in pursuit of their first playoff appearance since 2001, they've picked up a valuable addition to their rotation with rookie southpaw James Paxton returning to health.

Paxton bounced back from the first loss of his career to throw 6 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday night as Seattle rolled to a 5-0 win over the Rangers at Safeco Field and maintained its hold on the second Wild Card position in the American League.

Paxton improved to 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in seven starts this season and 7-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 outings overall, the best ERA for any Major Leaguer through 11 career starts since 1990.

"This guy's good," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "For me, and I said it early, he's the X-factor. He's the glue for this rotation and I believe that. We need to get him ready."

The Mariners are 15-5 over their past 20 games to put their record at 72-59, as they've now exceeded last season's 71-win total with 31 games still to go. Seattle kept its half-game lead on Detroit in the race for the AL's last Wild Card berth as the Tigers kept pace with a 5-2 victory over the Yankees.

Paxton missed nearly four months with shoulder issues that landed him on the disabled list, but Tuesday's start was the longest of the five outings since his return and the youngster could play a big part in the Mariners' postseason pursuit as he adds another strong arm behind veterans Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young.

After lasting a career-low four frames in his previous outing in Philadelphia, the 25-year-old pumped out a career-high 118 pitches while allowing just four hits -- all singles -- with three walks and four strikeouts.

"I feel like I'm getting closer with each start," Paxton said. "My stuff is starting to come around a little bit better each time. I just need to keep on pushing forward and get that feel earlier in the game so I can save some pitches and not have to throw 118 or whatever I threw today."

As for finally pitching in big games after months of rehab and two different comeback attempts, Paxton just smiled.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "We're playing some important baseball games right now and it's great. We're all feeling really good, really confident. We feel like we're going to come out here and win every night."

Danny Farquhar replaced Paxton and held Texas to just one walk over the final 2 1/3 innings. Seattle has allowed three runs or fewer in each of its last 14 home games since July 25. Since 1901, only the 1965-66 Dodgers (16) and 1966-67 White Sox (15) have had longer home streaks of three or fewer runs.

Seattle is 54-10 when scoring four or more runs and the Mariners hit that mark early in this one, with Robinson Cano leading the way with his 12th home run of the season and fifth in August.

Cano said the Mariners did well to bounce back from Monday's lackluster 2-0 loss after returning from a long road trip.

"Sometimes you need that, to wake up everybody," he said. "I tell the guys, no matter what you did in the past, every game means something and every game counts."

Cano lofted a solo home run into the right-field seats in the first inning for his 71st RBI, and the Mariners made it 2-0 in the second when Jesus Sucre forced in a run with a bases-loaded groundout after Kyle Seager singled and Chris Taylor and Endy Chavez walked.

Seattle then opened some space with a three-run fourth as Chavez laced a two-run double over the head of center fielder Daniel Robertson and Dustin Ackley singled in another run after Austin Jackson tripled.

Chavez was thrown out going to third following his double, but the veteran said he went because he saw Taylor close on the heels of Logan Morrison after Morrison momentarily tagged up at second while Taylor was running hard from first the whole way and nearly caught him at home plate.

"I thought Taylor was going to be stopping at third, but when I saw both runners going, I thought, 'I've got to do something to make sure they both score,'" Chavez said. "So I continued to run to third so the throw would get cut off and they could score easily."

A veteran move by the savvy Chavez, who was a late fill-in for Chris Denorfia in right field after Denorfia came up with a stiff neck. Chavez also didn't know if his well-hit ball to center was going to clear Robertson's glove until the last second.

"I was blowing, 'whew, whew,' so it would go over his head," Chavez said with a grin. "I'm glad the ball fell down and we scored two runs. That was a big two runs."

And a big victory for a Mariners club that pulled within five games of Oakland for the second spot in the AL West with its 16th win in August, second only to the Royals' 18 in the American League.

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Mariners sign GM Zduriencik to extension

General manager in sixth season; terms of multiyear deal undisclosed

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Mariners sign GM Zduriencik to extension play video for Mariners sign GM Zduriencik to extension

SEATTLE -- Jack Zduriencik, whose Mariners are contending for their first postseason berth since 2001, has received a multiyear contract extension as executive vice president and general manager, the club announced on Tuesday.

Zduriencik is in his sixth season as GM, and the Mariners enter Tuesday's game against the Rangers with a record of 71-59, having already equaled last year's win total with 32 games remaining.

Terms of the extension were not disclosed, per club policy, but Zduriencik was operating on a one-year deal this season and the extension is for multiple years.

"I'm excited and happy to be able to be here for a couple more years," Zduriencik said. "I believe in what we're doing. I believe in the people we have in place. It hasn't always been easy. I think we put a plan in place and you do what your gut instincts tell you to do. Where we're at right now is a good spot as an organization. 

"Our fans have been very, very patient and I really appreciate that," he said. "And I thank ownership for the vote of confidence. I'm happy and my family is happy and we're looking forward to seeing this thing through. We have a goal in mind and we're on our way to doing it."

Mariners president Kevin Mather said the negotiation went quickly after he broached the subject with Zduriencik at lunch Tuesday.

"It was a short discussion," Mather said. "The question really was, 'Do you like it here? Are we treating you OK? Are you enjoying your job?' He said, 'I love it here, my family loves it here.' I said, 'Well then let's stay. Let's stay.' Big smile on his face. I said, 'I guess that's a yes.'"

Lloyd McClendon, hired by Zduriencik last offseason to replace Eric Wedge as field manager, said he's been thrilled by the working relationship that has quickly developed.

"I think it's well deserved," McClendon said of the extension. "Jack has done a tremendous job of putting this club together and making the necessary acquisitions to make us better. I just think he's done a tremendous job all around, starting with Spring Training, and getting the pieces that we needed to be competitive. Hopefully this continues to build."

Zduriencik has been in Major League Baseball for 35 years, working with the Mets, Dodgers, Pirates and Brewers before joining Seattle prior to the 2009 campaign.

Zduriencik is the eighth GM in Mariners history and is credited with helping rebuild the club's farm system and developing a young core that is now maturing at the Major League level.

McClendon said the club's Minor League system is one of the best in baseball, something he knew even before he took his job last winter.

"I didn't need to be here to know what they've got," McClendon said. "This is one of the finest farm systems in all of baseball. I don't think you'll find anybody that would tell you different. We're tremendously talented in the middle of the field, we've got some tremendous arms in the Minor Leagues and certainly some real nice bats at the lower levels. I'm excited about what the future holds for this club. I said it in my initial press conference, this is a golden era for the Seattle Mariners and it's only going to get better."

When Wedge resigned last year after failing to get a desired multiyear extension prior to the end of a 71-91 season, he blasted Zduriencik in a newspaper report and called the organization "dysfunctional," a point McClendon wryly made light of on Tuesday.

"We talk every day on a lot of different subjects," he said of working with Zduriencik. "We're probably as dysfunctional as dysfunctional can get. It's a pretty good relationship.

"Seriously, and this is a real important point, when you talk about dealing with someone on a daily basis, the one thing you have to understand is the first thing you need to do is agree that sometimes you're going to disagree, to make your organization better. It's not always about 'I love you' and 'You love me.'

"There are some days when he leaves this office with a bandage over his head and other days I leave the office with a bandage over my head," McClendon said. "But our relationship is one of mutual respect. I think he's tremendous at what he does and I hope he's proud of the job I've done for him. It's pretty good."

Zduriencik acknowledged things haven't always gone smoothly, but he looks at the big picture and sees positive steps all around.

"As an organization, we're in a good spot," he said. "You're never satisfied. If I had Mays and Mantle, I'd still be looking for more. That's just the nature of what you do. But I think we're on our way to being what we want to become and that's a world champion. We have a ways to go to get there, but we also have pieces coming that are going to help us and we have pieces that are continuing to develop on our big league club.

"I'm happy we're where we are today personally, but also for this city and organization. And I'm looking forward to where we're going. It's going to be better than where we're at today."

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Peterson leads Seattle's class for Fall League

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Peterson leads Seattle's class for Fall League play video for Peterson leads Seattle's class for Fall League

SEATTLE -- Third baseman D.J. Peterson, the Mariners' first-round Draft pick in 2013, is one of six Seattle prospects who'll play in the Arizona Fall League starting in October, as rosters were released Tuesday.

Each of the six AFL teams is made up from players from five different Major League club. The Mariners will be affiliated with the Surprise Saguaros this fall, along with players from the Red Sox, Reds, Padres and Rangers.

Also named from the Mariners were infielder Patrick Kivlehan, catcher John Hicks and right-handed pitchers Matt Anderson, Matt Brazis and Stephen Landazuri. It will be Kivlehan's second AFL season, as he played for the Peoria Javelinas last year.

Peterson was expected to play in the AFL last season until he was hit in the face with a pitch in August and sidelined for the remainder of the year.

"I'm looking forward to being challenged and facing good competition," Peterson told MLB.com. "It gives me a chance to see what I might be able to see one day in the big leagues."

It's also a bit of a homecoming for Peterson, who has split his first full season between the Class A Advanced California League and the Double-A Southern League. The Arizona native will get the chance to play in very familiar surroundings, while sharing an apartment with his younger brother Dustin (No. 12 on the Padres' Top 20) and his cousin Nate Causey, an Arizona State product selected by the Rockies in the 19th round of this June's Draft. Both will be in Arizona for instructional league play for their respective organizations.

"I've lived in Arizona my whole life," Peterson said. "It's where I played baseball almost my whole life. I'm looking forward to being home."

Peterson has hit .254 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 52 games since being promoted to Double-A Jackson after batting .326 with 18 homers and 73 RBIs in 65 games for High Desert.

Kivlehan also was bumped up to Jackson midseason and is batting .301 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs in 98 games. Hicks started the year in Jackson (.296, 3 HRs, 27 RBIs in 53 games) and is now at Triple-A Tacoma where he's hit .284 with two homers and 19 RBIs in 24 games.

Landazuri and Brazis are currently pitching for Jackson. Landazuri has spent the full season in Double-A and is 6-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 18 starts, while Brazis is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 14 relief appearance for Jackson after going 3-0, 2.97 ERA in 23 outings for High Desert.

Anderson started the year in Jackson and was 3-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 13 starts and now has gone 3-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 12 games (seven starts for High Desert).

{"event":["prospect" ] }
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Rangers win challenge to erase double play

Texas doesn't capitalize after overturned call extends third inning

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Rangers win challenge to erase double play play video for Rangers win challenge to erase double play

SEATTLE -- The Rangers couldn't take advantage of an overturned call that worked in their favor on Tuesday night against the Mariners.

The play occurred with one out in the top of the third and the Rangers trailing, 2-0, against Mariners starter James Paxton. The Rangers had Robinson Chirinos at second and Daniel Robertson at first with Elvis Andrus at the plate.

Andrus hit a grounder back to Paxton, who threw to second to start the double play. The throw was low but second baseman Robinson Cano handled it and delivered the relay to first.

Andrus was signaled out by first-base umpire Tim Timmons, but the Rangers asked for an appeal and the call was overturned. That allowed Alex Rios to bat with runners at the corners with two outs. But he grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.

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Denorfia sidelined by neck stiffness

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Denorfia sidelined by neck stiffness play video for Denorfia sidelined by neck stiffness

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Chris Denorfia was scratched from the Mariners' lineup about two hours before Tuesday night's game with the Rangers due to a stiff neck.

Veteran Endy Chavez got the start in Denorfia's place, though he was penciled in eighth in the batting order after Denorfia had been originally slated to hit sixth.

Denorfia, acquired on July 31 from the Padres, has hit .244 in 16 games with Seattle, including a .312 mark over the last 10 games after getting off to a 1-for-13 start with his new club.

Chavez is hitting .272 in 63 games for the Mariners in his 13th season in the Majors.

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Mariners again calling on Ramirez for spot start

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Mariners again calling on Ramirez for spot start play video for Mariners again calling on Ramirez for spot start

SEATTLE -- Looking to give the starting rotation extra rest for the final month of the season and a possible trip to the playoffs, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon announced Tuesday that right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will make a spot start Wednesday against the Rangers.

"Last month I managed for September," McClendon said. "This month I'm trying to manage for October, and I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind."

The Mariners, who entered Tuesday with a half-game lead over the Tigers for the second American League Wild Card, plan to recall Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday morning. That will require a corresponding roster move to clear space on the 25-man roster.

Ramirez, 24, is familiar with Tacoma and Seattle, and he has the miles to show for it. In 2014, he is 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts for the Mariners and 5-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 starts for the Rainiers. This will be his sixth stint with Seattle.

Ramirez began the year in the Mariners' rotation but, after a slow start, was optioned to the Minor Leagues in late April. Since, he's bounced between the Majors and Minors as an extra starter that McClendon can call on when sensing his rotation needs a break.

"He's probably our most experienced guy down there," McClendon said. "He's throwing the best down there. I think this is an opportunity he certainly earned."

Ramirez hasn't earned a victory in the Major Leagues since his April 1 season debut, when he allowed two runs over seven innings in Seattle's 8-3 victory over the Angels.

But that isn't indicative of how he's pitched of late. In his last six big league starts, the Nicaragua native is 0-1 with a 1.15 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.

"I think he's done a nice job. We've called him up a couple times and he's pitched well for us," McClendon said. "He's given us opportunities to win ballgames."

Right-hander Felix Hernandez was originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday. Instead, he'll throw Friday when the Mariners welcome the Washington Nationals to Safeco Field for the opener of a three-game series.

The announcement to add Ramirez to the rotation -- at least temporarily -- came after McClendon saw his starters labor during the club's recent nine-game East Coast road trip. The Mariners have an off-day Thursday, so every starter will pitch on a seventh day instead of the typical five the next time through the cycle.

Making that decision didn't come easy.

"I slept on it for a couple of days," McClendon said. "I know that there is absolutely no doubt that I'm doing the right thing for the future of these pitchers and the future of this organization."

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Mariners' bats silenced in homestand opener

Elias battles pitch count; Morrison has two of club's four hits

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Mariners' bats silenced in homestand opener play video for Mariners' bats silenced in homestand opener

SEATTLE -- Maybe it was the cross-country flight after a draining, nine-game East Coast road trip. Perhaps it was Sunday's coronary-inducing win over the Red Sox that seemed longer than its 4-hour, 7-minute running time and chewed through a good chunk of the bullpen.

Whatever the cause, the Mariners simply couldn't muster any offense Monday night at Safeco Field in a 2-0 loss to the Rangers.

With a chance to increase their lead on the idle Tigers in the race for the second American League Wild Card, Seattle's bats rarely hit the ball hard against Rangers starting pitcher Miles Mikolas.

Despite entering with a 7.48 ERA in nine starts, Mikolas allowed just three hits over a career-high eight innings in his first appearance against the Mariners. He fanned five and walked just one en route to his second win of the year.

He dropped the Mariners to 71-59 with 32 games left in the regular season and a half-game ahead of Detroit for the final AL postseason spot, while the Rangers improved to 51-79.

"As good as we've been -- I hate to break the news -- we're going to lose a few games," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We're probably going to lose a few games that people thought we should win. That's just the way it goes. This is baseball. ... It's hard to win at this level every night, so as disappointed as people are, and I'm sure the world's probably caving in tonight, we'll be OK tomorrow."

The Mariners brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning when Austin Jackson hit a one-out single off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. Dustin Ackley followed with a lineout, then Robinson Cano flied out to end the game. It befitted a night the Mariners finished with four hits.

"I thought he had good stuff. His fastball jumps on you. He has a four-seamer and a two-seamer," said Logan Morrison of Mikolas. "His breaking balls were tight and kept us off-balance."

Morrison provided the lineup's lone offensive punch. He finished 2-for-3 to boost his hitting streak to nine games.

"I think we had a lot of hard-hit balls tonight. It's part of the game. It's baseball. It's not an excuse, but the 6-hour flight probably didn't help things, so we'll be back at it tomorrow and forget about this one."

Seattle entered winners in 15 of its last 20 games, in large part thanks to a resurgent offense averaging five runs per game since acquiring Jackson and Chris Denorfia at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. That came shortly after they dealt reliever Stephen Pryor to the Twins in exchange for designated hitter Kendrys Morales.

On Monday, their first and only major threat came with two outs in the second inning and didn't yield any runs. Morrison started it with a single and catcher Mike Zunino walked to put runners on first and second, but Endy Chavez grounded out to first base for the third out.

The Mariners didn't do much else to help starter Roenis Elias. The rookie southpaw was better than his last start, when he allowed a career-high six walks and hit a batter over four innings in a loss to the Phillies.

But he wasn't especially efficient. It took him 101 pitches to get through five innings. Elias has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last six starts, yet he's failed to last six innings each time.

"He was his own worst enemy tonight," McClendon said. "He battled the whole night with himself, command. I'm not sure what's going on. Can't quite put my finger on it but we got to get him straightened out. He's got to go deeper into ballgames."

Elias allowed one run on three hits and four walks while striking out six en route to the loss.

"My velocity is the same from start to finish," Elias said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. "It's just mechanics."

Elias was fortunate to allow just one run in the fourth inning, when Rangers designated hitter J.P. Arencibia lined a one-out single to give Texas a 1-0 lead. After Adam Rosales flied out, Elias issued a two-out walk to Leonys Martin to load the bases. Catcher Tomas Telis followed by slapping a slow roller in the hole between first and second.

Cano ranged far to his left, fielded and spun before throwing to first to nab Telis for the third out. The call stood following an instant-replay review.

The Rangers added an insurance run against reliever Brandon Maurer in the seventh on Rougned Odor's fielder's choice groundout. That capped the scoring from either side.

"You look at the numbers, you look at the paper, you think you ought to dominate, but it doesn't work that way," McClendon said after the Mariners were blanked for the 15th time this season. "You still have to go out there and play a game. Tonight, the Texas Rangers played a better game than we did."

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Surprise hits make for inspiring stories

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Surprise hits make for inspiring stories play video for Surprise hits make for inspiring stories

One of the best parts of any baseball season is the surprise stories. Sometimes, it's the kids who burst onto the scene and do great things. Other times, it's the guys who've fought through all kinds of adversity, refused to give up and finally come out on the other side as big-time contributors on good teams.

Another thing that's part of any baseball season: Virtually every team that makes a nice postseason run gets at least a few contributions from places it never expected to get them.

Sometimes, it's the kids. Sometimes, it the comeback stories. But while good teams count on their stars performing at a high level, there's a reason general managers spend so much time sorting through reports and asking scouts the same question over and over.

"Can this guy help us?"

That's been true again this season, and as baseball sprints toward the September stretch run, there are surprising -- some inspiring -- stories here, there and everywhere.

Here's my fave five:

Chris Young, Mariners starter: There are sweet stories, and then there are stories that are almost too good to be true. That's what Young represents. His resume includes seven organizations, three surgical procedures and a relentless will to keep going when there seemed almost no reason to. Young had a 7.88 ERA in seven Triple-A starts for the Nationals last season. He got his release after being told he wouldn't make the club in Spring Training. Seattle needed a starter and believed Young was healthy. He has been an absolute godsend, with 12 victories, 150 1/3 innings and a 3.17 ERA. Young hasn't thrown a 90-mph fastball in years, but he's smart, aggressive, has pinpoint control and has an ability to change speeds and keep hitters off balance. "If he's not the Comeback Player of the Year, I don't know who could possibly be," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. Score one for the good guys.

Josh Harrison, Pirates utilityman: In three big league seasons before this one, Harrison had 532 at-bats and a .250 batting average. The Bucs valued him because he can play every position. What they couldn't have known is that Harrison would become one of their most valuable players this season. When manager Clint Hurdle began giving him chances to play, he took advantage of them, starting games at five positions. Harrison was named to the National League All-Star team and is hitting .303.

Dellin Betances, Yankees reliever: Once upon a time, Betances was the undisputed star of the Bombers' farm system and tabbed a future anchor of the rotation. And then everything went wrong. Injuries. Poor performances. The Yanks placed him in the bullpen this season as something of a last resort. Now 26, Betances has become a star. The imposing 6-foot-8, 260-pound right-hander has been one of baseball's best relievers, compiling a 1.42 ERA in 57 appearances. In 76 innings, he has 20 walks and 113 strikeouts. Betances is pure power, with a 97-mph fastball and an 87-mph slider.

J.D. Martinez, Tigers outfielder: Martinez's season began with the Astros releasing him near the end of Spring Training. Detroit signed him to a Minor League deal and summoned him to the big leagues in late April. Martinez found a comfortable level in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter that he never had with Houston. His batting average has been above .300 virtually the entire season, and at 27, he's becoming almost exactly the player the Astros once thought he'd be.

Kole Calhoun, Angels outfielder: Calhoun began this season with 247 career at-bats in the big leagues, and this season, it figured to be another year in which he would fight for playing time and be shuttled back and forth between Los Angeles and Triple-A Salt Lake. He injured his right ankle in mid-April and returned five weeks later, and on May 25, he was hitting .205. But then Calhoun began to take advantage of every opportunity. He hit .346 in June and .287 in July. Calhoun began Monday hitting .318 this month. In a lineup with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, etc., Calhoun has made his presence felt with 25 doubles, 13 home runs and a very nice .827 OPS.

Honorable mention: Jake Arrieta, Alfredo Simon, Collin Cowgill and Tanner Roark.

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Felix pushed back as Mariners adjust rotation

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Felix pushed back as Mariners adjust rotation play video for Felix pushed back as Mariners adjust rotation

SEATTLE -- The Mariners are tweaking their starting rotation again.

Instead of making his scheduled Wednesday start, ace right-hander Felix Hernandez will pitch Friday on six days' rest when Seattle welcomes the Nationals for the start of a three-game Interleague series.

Seattle has yet to announce who will start in place of Hernandez on Wednesday against the Rangers, but the situation became more clear after right-hander Taijuan Walker allowed five runs over six innings for Triple-A Tacoma in Monday night's 8-0 loss to the Iowa Cubs.

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for the Rainiers, but that seems unlikely. With Walker unavailable, Ramirez became the logical candidate to start Wednesday's series finale. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he'll "probably" announce a starter Tuesday.

Ramirez has served primarily as a No. 6 starter for the Mariners while bouncing between Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma after beginning the year in the Mariners rotation. He's had middling success at both levels, going 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in the big leagues and 5-5 with a 3.63 ERA with Tacoma.  

McClendon confirmed that Ramirez or Walker will join the Mariners' rotation in some capacity Sept. 1, when MLB rules allow rosters to expand from 25 to 40. Assuming Ramirez is recalled before then, it will require a corresponding roster move.

In the meantime, McClendon would like to limit overusing a rotation with a 3.23 ERA -- best in the American League -- but struggled on Seattle's recent nine-game road trip through Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston.

"I've been concerned about that all year. That's why we've done everything we can to push them back whenever we get the chance to do that," McClendon said Monday before the club announced the rotation shuffling.

It's a move McClendon has used numerous times this season.

"I think you probably saw a little bit of the grind ... for us to come back 6-3 off this road trip. Our starting pitching was not very stellar," McClendon said. "There's probably been a little wear but we'll try to make some adjustments and keep our eye on the future a little bit. I'm not sure what we do but hopefully we'll have answers in the next few days."

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Cano returns to lineup from flu-like symptoms

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Cano returns to lineup from flu-like symptoms play video for Cano returns to lineup from flu-like symptoms

SEATTLE -- Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the No. 3 spot in the lineup Monday night. Cano left the third inning of Sunday's 8-6 win over the Red Sox because of flu-like symptoms, including dizziness.

A day after helping Cano off the field, manager Lloyd McClendon said that his star second baseman was feeling better and the virus hadn't spread through the clubhouse.

"Not yet," he added, knocking on his desk inside his office.

First baseman Logan Morrison missed Saturday's game with what McClendon labeled the same 24-hour virus. Morrison returned to the lineup Sunday and notched two hits.

Cano didn't speak to the media Monday before the Mariners began a three-game series at Safeco Field against the Rangers.

The 31-year-old has been a rock in the middle of the Mariners' order after signing a 10-year, $240 million contract last December. He began Monday fourth in the American League with a .326 batting average and third in the AL with 155 hits.

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Texas loses review on bases-loaded grounder

Out call stands on Rangers' challenge of force play at 1B in fourth inning

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Texas loses review on bases-loaded grounder play video for Texas loses review on bases-loaded grounder

SEATTLE -- The Rangers were hoping instant replay would deliver Tomas Telis' first Major League hit and RBI. That didn't turn out to be the case.

Telis, called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Monday to make his Major League debut, came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. The Rangers were leading 1-0 at the time.

Telis hit a slow grounder to the right side that Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano fielded going to his left on the outside grass. He did a full turn and fired to first baseman Logan Morrison, who appeared to adjust his feet reaching for the bag, to get Telis for the third out of the inning.

Manager Ron Washington challenged the call, but it stood upon replay.

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Mariners finish sweep, hold lead in Wild Card race

Offense bails out Iwakuma, who allowed five runs in just 2 1/3 innings

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Mariners finish sweep, hold lead in Wild Card race play video for Mariners finish sweep, hold lead in Wild Card race

BOSTON -- How do you know things are going well for the Mariners these days? Despite the shortest outing of Hisashi Iwakuma's career and an illness that sidelined Robinson Cano, Seattle continued its August roll with an 8-6 victory and series sweep of the Red Sox on Sunday at Fenway Park.

The Mariners have won 14 of their last 18 to put themselves a season-best 13 games over .500 at 71-58, maintaining a one-game lead over the Tigers in the chase for the American League's final Wild Card berth.

The sweep was Seattle's first in a series of three or more games at Fenway in franchise history and capped a 6-3 road trip that puts the Mariners' record in away games at an AL-best 37-26.

The Mariners have now equaled their 71-win total from last season with 33 games still remaining as they pursue their first postseason berth since 2001.

Iwakuma gave up six hits and five runs in 2 1/3 innings and Cano left the game about the same time after feeling dizzy while in the field, but the Mariners regained the lead in the fifth and then hung on behind another strong outing from their bullpen.

"It was a tough day in a lot of different ways for us," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "In the end, we got the win, so that makes everything okay. It was a little concerning, but we got beyond it."

Boston scored once off Charlie Furbush in the eighth to cut the lead to one, but Tom Wilhelmsen came on to get the final two outs of that frame, stranding the tying run at third. Brad Miller -- filling in for Cano -- drove an RBI double high off the Green Monster to provide a two-run cushion in the top of the ninth before Fernando Rodney closed out the game with his 38th save.

Even that wasn't easy as Rodney loaded the bases and wound up needing to throw 34 pitches before finally striking out Kelly Johnson for the final out.

"I think this had to be the craziest series we've been in this year, just as far as back and forth, coming from behind, scoring a lot of runs, rallying," said left fielder Dustin Ackley, who went 3-for-5 with a triple and double and scored three runs. "And what our bullpen has done the last two days, coming in early and chewing up some innings was huge."

The Mariners pulled off the sweep in a series where none of their starters picked up a victory. Six relievers combined to allow one run in 6 2/3 innings on Sunday and gave up just that one run in 15 1/3 innings in the series.

"I said earlier in the season, we've got like three or four closers," said Rodney, ticking off Wilhelmsen, Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina and himself. "These guys can close the game. They can throw three days in a row. That's the difference with this bullpen. When you have a bullpen like that, you can go a long way and win a lot of games."

Iwakuma has been one of the AL's top starters since joining the Mariners rotation in mid-2012 and the no-decision left his record at 12-6 with a 2.83 ERA. But he's had no success against the Red Sox as Sunday's start broke his previous shortest outing of three innings in an 11-8 loss to Boston last season in Safeco.

"He just didn't have it," McClendon said. "He's human."

But Iwakuma is far more human against the Red Sox than anyone else, with a 10.20 ERA in four career starts while allowing 17 runs and 30 hits in 15 innings. He lasted just four innings in a 5-4 loss in a previous start against Boston this June in Seattle in what had been his shortest outing this year.

Iwakuma didn't have any answers as to why Boston has proven to be such a nemesis.

"To be honest, I don't know the key," he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "If I knew, I'd get these guys out. I've only faced them a couple of times. Hopefully, the next time I will get these guys out."

Red Sox manager John Farrell says his club has adopted a good approach against Iwakuma and his nasty splitter.

"More than anything, we've not expanded the strike zone below," Farrell said. "He's such a good low-ball pitcher. He's got downward action to most every pitch that he does throw. And we've laid off the balls at the bottom of the strike zone where maybe some other teams haven't."

After the Mariners spotted Iwakuma a three-run lead in the top of the first, the Red Sox immediately tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Iwakuma hadn't hit a batter in his first 147 innings this season, but hit two Red Sox and gave up three singles while struggling through a 39-pitch frame before getting knocked out in the third by a two-run double by Will Middlebrooks.

But Seattle didn't let that turn of events put a sour note on the end of their road trip. They kept chipping away after Iwakuma's departure, tying the game on Austin Jackson's RBI single in the fifth and then taking the lead at 6-5 when Ackley followed with his triple. Another run-scoring single by Kyle Seager in the eighth provided a welcome insurance run and Brad Miller -- filling in for Cano -- answered another Red Sox run with an RBI double high off the Green Monster.

"Crazy game, crazy series," said Miller, who also contributed a sacrifice fly in the fifth. "It was fun. Playing in a place like this, Sunday game at Fenway, it was sweet. It was a good way to end the road trip."

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As Saunders leaves Tacoma, Hart arrives for rehab

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As Saunders leaves Tacoma, Hart arrives for rehab play video for As Saunders leaves Tacoma, Hart arrives for rehab

BOSTON -- Mariners right fielder Michael Saunders was recalled from his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday due to a viral infection and will not be able to rejoin the Rainiers for a minimum of five days, the club announced Sunday.

But Corey Hart, who has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a bruised right knee, began his own rehab assignment with Tacoma on Saturday as he attempts to get healthy before the end of the regular season.

Saunders had missed the last three games with the illness after playing 10 games with Tacoma while working back from a strained right oblique.

"He's had a rough go," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's been sick for a few days and he's still not back yet. Whenever he gets ready, we'll get him back out there."

Saunders remains on the 15-day disabled list with the Mariners and can resume his rehab assignment on Thursday with Tacoma if he's ready. Saunders has already spent 16 of his maximum 20 days on his rehab stint, so if he returned Thursday he'd potentially be able to play the last four games of Tacoma's season -- which ends Sept. 1 -- and then join the Mariners when rosters can be expanded in September.

Saunders hit .276 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 65 games for Seattle, but since he went on the disabled list for a second time this season, the club has acquired veteran outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia.

Hart also has played some outfield this season, but mostly served as the club's designated hitter. He went 0-for-3 while playing DH on Saturday for Tacoma in his first game since going on the 15-day DL on Aug. 2. The former two-time National League All-Star acknowledged then he didn't have the necessary strength back in his legs as he was forced to play more outfield after the acquisition of designated hitter Kendrys Morales.

Hart missed all of last season with microfracture surgeries in both knees and has hit just .203 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 58 games after signing a one-year deal with Seattle. It remains to be seen if the 32-year-old can get healthy enough to help the Mariners after rosters can be expanded the final month.

"He's back out there, we'll see what happens," McClendon said. "Right now, he should get 35-40 at-bats [with Tacoma], so we'll see."

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McClendon does not expect many September callups

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BOSTON -- While the Mariners have used September callups to give young players Major League exposure and experience in recent years, manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't see that happening this season when rosters can be expanded beyond the normal 25 in another week.

Seattle will definitely add some players, but only those who can contribute to the team as it makes a push for its first playoff berth since 2001.

"It's been my experience, particularly with teams with a chance to advance to the playoffs, you bring up guys that can help you win games," McClendon said Sunday. "I don't think you venture out too much into bringing young guys just to get them experience because there isn't going to be any experience to get.

"We're playing meaningful games and you want your veteran guys out there performing in high-level, high-pressure games. For me, I don't see bringing up a lot of young players just to get them experience."

As for the notion of youngsters benefiting just by being in the big league environment, even if they're not playing? McClendon doesn't buy that theory.

"I don't see how, other than just sitting on the bench and watching the speed of the game," he said. "The only way you gain and it becomes valuable is if you're competing, in my opinion. Just to sit and watch, I don't see how it helps much."

Thus it'll be interesting to see who the Mariners add once Tacoma's season ends on Sept. 1. Outfielder James Jones seems a certainty, given his speed could be a valuable asset off the bench in late-inning situations. First baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Stefen Romero would provide depth at their positions, while outfielder Michael Saunders is an obvious addition once he gets healthy and Humberto Quintero is a possibility as an extra veteran catcher.

On the pitching side, Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker are potential additions if the club wants to carry an extra starter or have an extra arm in an already loaded eight-man bullpen.

Players must be on the 25-man roster or disabled list on Aug. 31 in order to be eligible for postseason play. However, players not on the 25-man roster or DL as of Aug. 31 can still be added to playoff rosters as replacements for a player who is on the DL and can't play, though only a position player can replace a position player or a pitcher be used to replace a pitcher in that scenario.

The Mariners currently have three position players on the DL in Willie Bloomquist, Corey Hart and Saunders.

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Big frame helps Mariners add to Wild Card lead

Ackley caps inning with three-run homer off Workman

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Big frame helps Mariners add to Wild Card lead play video for Big frame helps Mariners add to Wild Card lead

BOSTON -- The Mariners didn't need any late dramatics on Saturday, which was just fine with a club that simply wants to keep racking up wins any way possible as the season stretches into late August and a playoff berth looks increasingly realistic.

A day after pulling some late-inning magic, this time the Mariners dropped the hammer on the reeling Red Sox with a seven-run fourth inning en route to a 7-3 victory at Fenway Park that keeps Seattle in position as the second Wild Card team in the American League.

With the Tigers splitting a doubleheader Saturday at Minnesota, Seattle holds a one-game lead over Detroit in the race for the final playoff spot.

Dustin Ackley's three-run homer into the short porch in right field capped Seattle's breakout frame as the Mariners improved to 70-58, the first time they've been 12 games over .500 since the end of the 2007 season.

"You can hit homers down there if you can squeak it down that line because it's not very deep after the foul pole," said Ackley, whose ninth homer of the season was estimated at 376 feet. "I was hoping it was going to turn there a little at the end and it did. I think I'm leading the league in first-row homers, so I'll take it."

After scoring all their runs with two out in the ninth in Friday's 5-3 comeback win, the Mariners jumped on Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman with all their runs and seven of their 10 hits coming in the fourth as they rolled to their ninth win in the past 12 games.

"Doing it in the fourth is way better. You can relax a little more," said Ackley, who indicated the early 3-0 deficit wasn't a matter of concern. "Nobody here is panicking any more. We all know what we're capable of doing. Especially after the first time through, everybody was like, 'OK, now we're going to get him. We've seen him at least one time.' And we did. We strung together three hits right off the bat and then that inning took off from there."

It was the fourth time this season Seattle has scored seven or more runs in an inning and the seven hits matched their most in any one frame.

"I don't care how we get 'em, as long as we get 'em," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That was nice to bounce back like that."

The offense was needed on a day big right-hander Chris Young struggled through 3 2/3 innings -- his shortest outing since his second start of the year back in mid-April -- and turned a 7-3 lead over to Tom Wilhelmsen with the bases loaded in the fourth.

Wilhelmsen continued his outstanding season by striking out Mike Napoli to end that threat and wound up throwing 1 1/3 hitless innings as the first of four Seattle relievers, who combined for 5 1/3 scoreless frames on two hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

Wilhelmsen was part of a bullpen blowup in Seattle's last game at Fenway last season when the Red Sox scored six times in the ninth to pull out an 8-7 win, so he's pleased to see how much things have changed this year.

"Everyone is feeling real good, we're strong, we're healthy, eager to pick each other up and win ballgames," said Wilhelmsen. "These are really important games, especially right now at this time of the season. And to do it on the road at the end of a long trip says a lot about our team."

Young gave up seven hits and five walks in his first appearance at Fenway since the third game of his rookie season in 2004 with the Padres. With the no-decision, he remains 12-6 with a 3.17 ERA.

The 6-foot-10 right-hander has been one of the Mariners' biggest surprises this season, but said he was fighting himself from the start in this one.

"Rhythm, timing, tempo. I just had no feel for it," Young said. "I kept thinking I'd find it. I felt like I started to there in the fourth and then [Dustin] Pedroia had a great at-bat and rolled it through the hole for the base hit and then I went back to the stretch and just couldn't find it again. It was just one of those days.

"But ultimately, we won the game," said Young, "and that's my goal every time out, to help this team win. The guys picked me up and the credit all goes to them."

Trailing, 3-0, Seattle batted around in the fourth with Chris Denorfia contributing an RBI double and later scoring on a wild pitch, Chris Taylor and Jesus Sucre lacing run-scoring singles and Ackley putting the frosting on top with his ninth homer of the season.

Red Sox reliever Alex Wilson quieted things down after replacing Workman, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless frames. The only Mariner to reach base against Wilson was Robinson Cano, who got plunked in the backside in the seventh after Charlie Furbush nailed David Ortiz in the elbow in the sixth. Umpires warned both benches after Cano was hit.

"It was an accident," Wilson said. "I didn't mean to run it all the way in on him. I tried to throw in there and it just kind of got away from me."

The victory clinches a series win for the Mariners at Fenway, where they had lost nine straight games coming into the weekend. Seattle is 5-3 on a nine-game road trip that concludes with Sunday afternoon's series finale. The loss was the seventh in a row for the Red Sox as they fell to 56-73.

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Pair of replays go Boston's way against Seattle

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Pair of replays go Boston's way against Seattle play video for Pair of replays go Boston's way against Seattle

BOSTON --- The Red Sox extended a first-inning rally by challenging a call that Allen Craig was tagged out at third.

With the bases full and two outs, Will Middlebrooks singled to right field, scoring Yoenis Cespedes and Mike Napoli. Craig hesitated as he rounded second, but took off for third. Kyle Seager took a throw from right fielder Chris Denorfia and placed the tag down. Third-base umpire Angel Hernandez called Craig out, and Boston manager John Farrell came out to discuss the call and eventually challenge it.

After a one minute and 49 second review, the call was overturned and the inning continued. Mookie Betts flew out to right a batter later to end it, and the game remained tied at 3.

The Red Sox are now 16-12 on challenges this season, successful on four straight. Entering Sunday, the league average for winning challenges was a shade below 47 percent.

Later in the game, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon challenged an out call on a stolen base attempt by rookie Chris Taylor in the top of the sixth, but replay confirmed the ruling on the final out of the inning.

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