SEATTLE — Coming home from a miserable road trip, Seattle manager Eric Wedge got the response he wanted from a scuffling ball club.
Taking five of seven and finally winning a series — two in fact — can quickly change the mood.
“I feel like our guys have taken significant steps and what you are seeing now is more the norm in regard to what our guys are capable of,” Wedge said. “The way we’re going to go about doing it is to be a complete team and to be able to count on all areas of our club.”
Michael Morse hit an opposite-field two-run homer, his third home run in four games, Aaron Harang pitched six solid innings for his first win and the Seattle Mariners won their second straight series with an 8-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
After not winning a series for most of April, the Mariners took three of four from the Angels and two of three from Baltimore.
Morse’s homer was the highlight on a night when the Mariners scored four times with two outs off Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (2-3). Michael Saunders had three hits and scored three times, while Kendrys Morales had three RBIs, including a two-run double in the sixth inning.
“The offense is starting to get better, the way that we have it in spring training,” Morales said through an interpreter. “We have to keep playing every day hard and staying collective about it.”
Morse became the first Seattle hitter to have nine homers in the team’s first 30 games since Mike Cameron in 2002. Cameron’s total included a four-homer game, and Morse was slowed in April by a small fracture in the little finger on his right hand.
Seattle was hitting just .230 on the season with two outs, but scored four runs on key two-out hits. Bay got the Mariners started with a double into the left-field corner to score Morales in the first after Chen easily got the first two outs of the game.
The Mariners scored twice in the second, including the first triple in the career of slow-footed Seattle catcher Jesus. Leading off the inning, Montero hit a drive to deep left-center that Adam Jones was tracking. Jones seemed confident enough that he blew a bubble with his gum as he chased the long fly ball, but watched as the ball deflected off the edge of his glove just before he crashed hard into the wall. Montero scored on Saunders’ single and Morales followed with another two-out RBI base hit for a 3-0 lead.
Morse then capped Chen’s miserable night with his drive to right-center in the fourth. Chen matched the shortest start of his career, lasting just four innings, giving up five runs, eight hits and walking three.
Morales and the Mariners were not done, adding three more in the sixth. Morales hit a two-run double to center and scored on Bay’s sacrifice fly. It was just the third time this season the Mariners scored more than seven runs.
“It’s a product of the process if you will. When you go up there with more confidence and a more consistent approach and ready to hit and staying within yourself, but beign aggressive at the same time, I think we’re seeing a lot of our guys do that,” Wedge said.
Harang (1-3) was knocked around in his three previous outings, failing to pitch past the fifth in any allowing 13 earned runs in his previous two outings against Texas and the Los Angeles Angels.
That all changed against the Orioles. Getting ahead of batters, Harang took a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning. He retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced and Matt Wieters was the only Baltimore batter to reach with a two-out double in the second.
Harang finally found trouble in the sixth, but was able to finish the inning without Seattle having to touch its bullpen. Manny Machado’s double extended his hitting streak to 10 games and was Baltimore’s first hit since Wieters’ double. Nick Markakis then lined a 3-2 pitch back up the middle into center field to score Machado and end Harang’s shutout. Jones followed with an RBI double, but Harang struck out Chris Davis to end the inning.
Machado added a solo homer in the eighth inning.
“He’s got too good a track record not to be better than his numbers so far,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said of Harang. “He will pitch well. This is a good pitchers park. I was hoping it wouldn’t fall on us.”
Notes: Former Baltimore 2B Roberto Alomar was announced Wednesday as this year’s inductee into the Orioles Hall of Fame. Alomar played three seasons in Baltimore from 1996-98. He will be inducted in August. … Orioles RHP Zach Clark made his major league debut when he took over for Chen in the fifth inning. Clark went 1 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits. … Seattle had double-digit hits in six of seven games during its homestand.