Jesus Montero flew out to Don Kelly, a ninth-inning defensive replacement, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, preserving Detroit’s 6-4 victory over the Mariners Tuesday night at Safeco Field, a result that snapped Seattle’s three-game winning streak. The Mariners and Tigers will conclude their three-game series Wednesday.
Trailing by two runs heading into their last at-bat, the Mariners loaded the bases against Detroit reliever Jose Valverde, who started the inning by issuing two walks. But Dustin Ackley couldn’t get a bunt down and struck out. Brendan Ryan then hit into what would have been a game-ending double play, but Detroit’s Prince Fielder dropped the ball at first, extending the inning.
Valverde intentionally walked Ichiro, loading the bases and setting up his confrontation with Montero, who lofted a ball into foul territory that Kelly caught while falling over the railing into the stands.
With the loss, the Mariners fell to 14-18, seven games behind Texas, which pummeled Baltimore 10-3 behind Josh Hamilton’s four home runs and an American League record 18 total bases. The loss was Seattle’s first to Detroit this season after four consecutive victories.
Detroit starter Justin Verlander, the defending American League Cy Young winner and MVP, collected the win after allowing three earned runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings. Kevin Millwood, raked for five earned runs in 5.0 innings, took the loss and remains winless in a Seattle uniform at 0-4.
Kyle Seager went 2-for-4 for Seattle and drove in a couple of runs, and Ryan, again hitting out of the No. 2 hole, also had two hits, the second time he has produced a multi-hit game since moving to the second slot in the batting order.
The Mariners and Tigers conclude their three-game series Wednesday at Safeco Field. Jason Vargas will be matched against rookie Drew Smyly.
The Tigers got to Millwood in the first inning on a double by Austin Jackson and an RBI single to center by Andy Dirks, and then really teed off on Seattle’s No. 5 starter in the top of the second inning, scoring four times.
Dirks lashed a two-run double to right and Delmon Young also hit a two-run double, giving Detroit a 5-0 lead.
The Mariners came back with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Ackley singled to right, Ryan followed with a single to center and Ichiro delivered an RBI single, scoring Ackley. A Seager single sent both Ryan and Ichiro home.
In the top of the seventh, Prince Fielder homered on a full-count, giving Detroit a 6-3 lead, but the Mariners answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan brought home Michael Saunders, who singled.
That set up the ninth inning in which the Mariners fell short, unlike Monday, when they got a walk-off sacrifice fly by John Jaso to win the game.