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Mariners sweep Blue Jays, finish 8-1 homestand

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 14 2014 12:43:20 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 14 2014 12:43:21 AM CDT

SEATTLE -- Having matched their best homestand in more than 13 years while sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays and putting themselves in position to take control of the American League wild-card race, the Seattle Mariners were flying high Wednesday night.

"It was a good homestand, and guys should be proud of it," manager Lloyd McClendon said after the Mariners beat Toronto 2-0 to finish off an 8-1 homestand. "But it's over now. We've got to get ready for this weekend's series against the Detroit Tigers.

"But, yeah, they (the players) can enjoy it for 20 or 30 minutes."

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales homered for the second consecutive night, and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched another gem as Seattle completed a three-game series sweep at home for the first time this season.

Morales hit a two-out, two-run shot to right field in the first inning.

Iwakuma (11-6) pitched 6 2/3 innings, and the Seattle bullpen did the rest on a night when Morales' first-inning home run gave the Mariners all the offense they would need. Iwakuma allowed five hits while dropping his August ERA to 0.84 in three starts.

"It was a big series," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "Winning two of the first three was big, and I needed to finish it with a good outing. I was very happy with the way it ended."

Closer Fernando Rodney, working for the fifth time in six games, earned his 35th save of the season. Five of the saves have come in August.

Seattle (65-55) earned its fourth consecutive win to keep pace in the American League wild-card race. The Mariners and Detroit Tigers (64-54) remain in a virtual tie for the second and final spot.

The Mariners went 8-1 on a homestand for the first time since Aug. 13-22, 2012, to match the franchise's highest winning percentage in a stand of seven or more games since the 2001 team posted an 11-1 mark during one home stretch.

Toronto (63-59) was swept for the first time since early July, when the Oakland A's took four in a row from the Blue Jays. Seattle outscored Toronto 19-4 during this three-game series.

"They shut down our offense, stone cold," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We were able to put some on the board (Tuesday) night, but it was pretty much a mismatch."

The Blue Jays fell three games behind Seattle and Detroit in the wild-card race.

Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (9-12) gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings.

Toronto left nine runners on base while going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"That's the key to baseball," Gibbons said. "Sometimes you get them; sometimes you don't."

Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki hit an infield single off Rodney with one out in the ninth, and then third baseman Juan Francisco hit a deep fly ball to center field -- only to have Seattle's Austin Jackson catch it just in front of the warning track for the second out.

Rodney, the last of five Seattle pitchers used in the game, then got pinch hitter Anthony Gose to strike out on three pitches to complete the sweep.

Morales, the Mariners' designated hitter, had one home run in 215 at-bats heading into Tuesday night's game against Toronto. He then hit two in a span of three at-bats over two nights.

His first-inning home run Wednesday was enough on a night when Iwakuma and the Seattle bullpen were dominant again.

"You start putting some wins together, and everything starts clicking at the same time," said Jackson, who was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. "Our pitching is great, our hitting is starting to come together. It's all coming together at the right time. We'll just try to ride it while it's hot."

NOTES: Toronto scored first in each of the first two games of this series but ended up getting outscored 17-4 in back-to-back losses. ... Through their first 12 games of August, the Mariners have not allowed an opponent to score more than three runs in a game. ... Both the Blue Jays and Mariners have Thursday off. Seattle will travel to Detroit to begin a three-game series Friday, while Toronto is headed to Chicago to face the White Sox. Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman is scheduled to pitch the series opener Friday. ... The Mariners don't know which Tigers starter they will face Sunday. RHP Justin Verlander (sore shoulder) was scratched from the start, and rookie LHP Robbie Ray appears to be the most likely fill-in.