Catcher Henry Blanco ripped a game-winning home run, Joe Saunders won his 10th and Danny Farquhar recorded his second save in two days as the Mariners, swept in Boston to start the six-game road trip, completed a series triumph (2-1) over the Baltimore Orioles Sunday at Camden Yards with a 3-2 victory.
The Mariners (52-59) won their second in a row and have won 11 of their last 18. They finished the road trip 2-4 after starting 0-3 and are 6-2-1 in their last nine series.
Blanco, who hit his second grand slam of the year Thursday in Boston, had a two-run seventh-inning shot off Wei-Yin Chen that erased a 2-1 deficit and gave the Mariners a lead that held up.
Saunders, who lost his last two starts, improved to 7-0 in nine career starts against the Orioles with 6.0 innings of effective work, turning the outcome over to Seattle’s recently ineffective bullpen. This time, it came through in splendid fashion.
Yoervis Medina, part of the meltdown in Boston Thursday when the Red Sox rallied from a 7-2 ninth-inning deficit to win 8-7, worked scoreless seventh and eighth innings, facing six batters with four strikeouts.
Farquhar, who earned the first save of his major league career Saturday night, then delivered a 1-2-3 ninth for save No. 2 and staked his claim to the closer’s role.
In 5.1 innings on the road trip, Farquhar did not allow a hit, run or walk, struck out seven.
Seattle generated six hits, none by by the first three in the order (0-for-11 by Brad Miller, Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales). After becoming the third player in Mariners history to produce 15 hits in a five-game span to start the trip (15-for-22), Morales went 0-for-4.
But Raul Ibanez was on track with a 2-for-4 day, including an RBI double that gave the Mariners their first run. That came in the second inning, following a Michael Morse double.
The Orioles got to Saunders for two in the sixth. Following a Steve Pearce walk, DH Danny Valencia tagged a homer to center on a 1-0 count, Baltimore’s MLB-leading 149th of the season.
The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the seventh. After Michael Saunders walked and was caught stealing, Brendan Ryan drew a full-count walk. Blanco then hit his second homer of the road trip.
Saunders left after 6.0 innings having allowed two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and walk, ultimately claiming his first win since July 19 at Houston.
In the ninth, Farquhar retired Henry Urrita on a line drive to Brad Miller at second, fanned Matt Weiters and got Nick Markakis to fly out.
The Mariners begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night at Safeco Field. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.76) will work for Seattle opposite RHP R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.66), a former Mariner (2008) who won the 2012 National League Cy Young award. The Milwaukee Brewers will follow into town for three starting Friday.
NOTES: Manager Eric Wedge won’t return to the team when the club opens the home stand. GM Jack Zduriencik, addressing reporters in Baltimore, said no timetable has been established: “We want him to come back full-time and complete” . . . RHP Stephen Pryor is not expected to pitch for the remainder of the season after an MRI revealed that Pryor is suffering from an injured right triceps muscle. Pryor, 24, was placed on the 15-day DL April 15 with a torn right latissimus dorsi muscle . . . The Mariners gave struggling second baseman Nick Franklin the day off Sunday to mull his 0-for-21 slide . . . The Mariners had 18 at-bats with runners in scoring position Saturday, just the third time this season the Mariners have had 15 or more. The Mariners started out 1-for-10, but finished 4-for-8 . . . According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kendrys Morales is the third player in Mariners history with 15 or more hits over a five-game stretch. Prior to Sunday, Morales had gone 15-for-22 in the first five contests of the current road trip. Ichiro had 16 hits in a five-game span in 2006 and 15 hits in five games in 2004, while Alex Rodriguez had 15 hits in five games in April 1998.
If he was younger, I’d say Blanco should be starting. He’s had some clutch hitting for the M’s.