Up 5-o in the fifth, the Mariners barely hung on to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-6 (box score) on a rainy Saturday night in Chicago, thanks mostly to a solid ninth inning from Tom Wilhelmsen and four hits from Robinson Cano. Kyle Seager’s two-run homer in the first got the edge on Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija. The four-hour, 16-minute contest was MLB’s second-longest nine-inning game this season.
The White Sox had their chances in the third and fourth against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who gave up an uncharacteristic four walks. They loaded the bases with two outs in the third on consecutive walks to Adam Eaton and Tyler Saladino, but Jose Abreu flew out to deep center. The bases were loaded again in the fourth for Eaton, who grounded out to Cano at second.
Seager’s two-run homer and a sacrifice fly by Seth Smith gave the Mariners a 3-0 lead in the first. A Smith double bumped the lead to 4-0 in the third, and Ketel Marte’s sac fly in the fifth made it 5-0.
In the eighth, Seager drove in what proved to be winning run when his grounder to shortstop Alexei Ramirez was misplayed for an error. Seager became the seventh player with four 20-home run seasons in club history. After being held out of the lineup on Thursday, Seager has homered in back-to-back games.
Iwakuma lasted 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on five hits. Rob Rasmussen came on to get the final out of the sixth with two on. Relievers Logan Kensing and Wilhelmsen combined to give up four runs in the eighth to cut the lead to 7-6, but Wilhelmsen returned in the ninth to get three outs while surrendering a walk.
“To give him that type of lead was important, and he did a really nice job. I don’t think he had his best stuff tonight, but he competed well and did a nice job for us.” — Manager Lloyd McClendon on Iwakuma
New Mariners catcher John Hicks made his major league debut in a most unusual way. After SS Marte strained mildly a hamstring running out an RBI grounder in the seventh, Seager moved from third to play short, and Hicks was asked to play third base for the first time in his career. “It was definitely not how I pictured my debut, but I’m happy to get it out of the way,” Hicks told MLB.com. “When they said third base, it was actually such a surprise that I didn’t have the butterflies I thought I would have.” . . . McClendon said before the game that he’s having Felix Hernandez skip his pitching turn Monday to give him a rest for September. “I did the same thing last year to freshen my pitchers up and Felix had the best September of his career,” McClendon said. “Everybody thought I was nuts when I did it, and I’ll do it again because it’s the right thing to do.”
In the series finale at 11:10 a.m. Sunday, Edgar Olmos (1-0, 0.00 ERA), called up Aug. 17, takes Hernandez’s turn in the rotation for a spot start against Jose Quintana (7-10, 3,63).