By David Krueger Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners looked up at the scoreboard early in Sunday’s game and saw something they haven’t seen very often this season: a lead.
Thanks to a two-run double by Jesus Montero, and a solo home run by Mike Carp, the Mariners took an early lead on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on a sunny afternoon at Safeco Field.
The victory was the Mariners’ second straight as Seattle took two of three games from the Twins in the series.
Mariners leadoff hitter Dustin Ackley led off the bottom of the first with a walk on four straight pitches and Brendan Ryan followed with a single. After an Ichiro Suzuki groundout advanced the runners, Montero slammed a double down the third-base line — just beyond the reach of Twins’ third baseman Danny Valencia — to clear the bases.
Montero scored on an RBI single by Kyle Seager to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead.
“It’s always nice to jump out early, take advantage of opportunities, and get out in front like that,” said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. “We had a couple guys step up for us in those RBI opportunities, which is a good sign.”
In the bottom of the second Carp sent the first pitch of the inning into the seats in right field for his first homer of the year.
Carp, who was activated from the disabled list on May 1, missed the first month of the season with a sprained right shoulder after he was injured in the season opener against the A’s in Japan.
“It feels like the beginning of the season,” Carp said, “but the last — about four games — I’ve felt pretty comfortable.”
Wedge agreed the season was still young for Carp, and said he’s excited that his outfielder was able to belt his first homer of the season.
“It’s good for him to get that first home run out of the way,” the manager said.
The four runs would be enough for Seattle starter Hector Noesi (2-3), who allowed one run in seven innings and picked up his first win since April 14 against Oakland.
“It’s nice to get out there early and let Noesi have some comfort behind him, let him relax and just go out there and do what he does,” Carp said.
Noesi’s only major flaw came in the seventh inning against Twins designated hitter Ryan Doumit. Doumit, a 1999 graduate of Moses Lake High School, homered on a fastball that Noesi said was supposed to be inside.
“I was trying to go in but (it was right) down the middle,” Noesi said.
That was the only run the M’s starter allowed, as he lowered his season earned run average from 7.83 to 6.30. Noesi, who says he “learns from every start,” allowed four hits to the Twins, who fell to a league worst 7-20 with the loss.
The Mariners added their final run in the fourth inning. With one out Ackley tripled into the gap in left-center field.
“If you hit it in the gaps here (Safeco Field) there’s always a chance you might get a triple,” Ackley said. “I got to second and he was maybe just starting to pick up the ball. … I was thinking, ‘well if I get to third here, a (sacrifice) fly or ground ball scores a run, so you just got to take that chance sometimes.’”
Ackley scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan to give Seattle a 5-0 lead.
Carp said Ackley’s hustle triple and Ryan’s sac fly are exactly what the Mariners need to do to continue playing winning baseball.
“It’s about getting that big hit, moving the runners over, executing and playing the game,” Carp said. “We’re getting guys on base lately, so it’s been good and a lot of fun to see that. Now it’s getting those other quality at-bats and making sure we move guys over and get them in because runs, for us (are) very important.”
Doumit hit a second homer of the game in the top of the ninth inning off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. It was the fifth career multi-home run game for the Moses Lake native and first since July 22, 1999, when Doumit was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer was 0-for-4 for the second consecutive game, and finished the three-game series against the Mariners 1-for-11. Coming into the series, Mauer was the active leader in batting average against Seattle, hitting .377 (66-for-175).
The win gives the Mariners their first winning streak since they won three straight in Detroit and one in Toronto on April 24-27. The four-game winning streak was followed by a season-high seven-game losing streak, which was snapped on Saturday.
Ackley said the team’s a little “streaky,” but he believes it’s headed in the right direction.
“Yeah, it seems like we’ve been pretty streaky lately, just with the four wins, seven losses and now two (wins) in a row,” Ackley said. “… I think everybody’s kind of getting their confidence up. I think some people are starting to swing the bat better than they were. I’m starting to feel more comfortable there.
“And I think this is something that’s going to carry over.”