ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Seattle Mariners got early home runs from Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz and held on for a 7-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, one that brightened their wild-card hopes another notch.
“I think every single game from here on out is going to be a huge game for us, so we’re just looking to capitalize on every opportunity,” said Haniger, who staked the Mariners to a 4-1 lead with a grand slam in the third inning.
Haniger, who was hit in the face by a pitch on July 29, hit his first career grand slam in his first game back after a three-week stretch on the disabled list. It was his eighth homer of the season.
Cruz, who is on an 11-game hitting streak, hit his 31st homer and his seventh in 10 games, raising his league-leading RBI total to 100. It was measured at 371 feet, or 101 feet less than his homer on Friday night.
“They all count. It was just far enough,” manager Scott Servais said. “We are riding the boomstick right now, no doubt. Nellie is hot, swinging the bat great, and everybody else is contributing as well.”
The Mariners’ fourth straight win left them near the top of a pack of teams competing for a wild card berth with six weeks left in the season.
“Every team in the wild-card hunt right now has had its hot streaks and its cold streaks. We’re no different than anybody else,” Servais said. “Hopefully we can ride this hot streak a little longer.”
Both home runs came off Jake Odorizzi, who gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. Odorizzi (6-7) lost his third straight start.
Cascade alum Steven Souza Jr. hit his 26th homer and Lucas Duda hit his fifth for the Rays, who lost for the eighth time in nine games. Logan Morrison added a pinch-hit homer in the ninth, his 29th of the season.
The six runs were the most by the Rays in a home game since June 23. They have scored only 30 runs in their last 15 games.
“The bats finally came to life. To me that’s the story of the game,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We lost. It stinks, but we needed to see some type of production, some type of positive performance from the offense and I think we provided that right down to the very last out.”
Ariel Miranda (8-6) won for the first time in nine starts since June 30, giving up three runs and five hits while striking out five in five innings.
Edwin Diaz, the fifth Seattle reliever, pitched the ninth for his 27th save.