By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — This is what the Seattle Mariners needed Monday night, a relative breather after an intense weekend in Anaheim, which followed three games against first-place Oakland prior to the All-Star break.
And for one night, anyway, the New York Mets played the role of that avuncular uncle whose visits were always welcome. The Mariners jumped to an early lead and eased their way to a 5-2 victory at Safeco Field.
Kyle Seager continued his SoDo tear with a pair of RBI singles; that makes 20 RBI in his past 18 home games. Mike Zunino hit a tape-measure home run, while Willie Bloomquist scored twice and had three hits.
Left fielder Dustin Ackley produced a showtime catch at the wall that snatched a homer away from Travis d’Arnaud. Ackley also contributed two singles and a double to a 14-hit attack.
Rookie lefty Roenis Elias (8-8) left after 51⁄3 innings after experiencing a cramp his left forearm. He gave up five hits while striking out eight and walking two.
Elias turned over a 4-1 lead to reliever Dominic Leone, who immediately served up a deep drive to d’Arnarud … that merely turned into a loud second out when Ackley pulled the ball back from over the wall.
The crowd of 21,943 ooo-ed, ahhh-ed and then roared.
Leone ended the sixth but departed after Ruben Tejada’s leadoff single in the seventh. Charlie Furbush retired the next two hitters before Mariners called on Brandon Maurer to get David Wright, who flied to center.
Maurer also pitched a scoreless eighth before Danny Farquhar closed out the victory in a non-save situation.
Mets lefty Jon Niese, out since July 4 because of a strained shoulder, dropped to 5-5 after allowing four runs and 11 hits before exiting after six innings.
It was a good night for the Mariners (53-46) in the germinating wild-card chase, too. They pushed their lead for the American League’s final postseason berth to 21⁄2 games when their four closest pursuers all lost.
The Mariners nicked Niese for one run in the first inning but ran their way out of the chance for a bigger inning.
Bloomquist led off with a single. Niese struck out James Jones and Robinson Cano, but Bloomquist stole second on the third strike to Cano.
That enabled Bloomquist to score when Seager grounded a single up the middle. Stefen Romero followed with an infield single, but Seager tried for third on the play and was thrown out.
Elias pitched around one-out singles in each of the first two innings, but he paid for a leadoff walk in the third to Tejada, who went to second on a wild pitch.
Tejada held when Curtis Granderson flied to right, and Elias had a chance to escape after striking out Daniel Murphy — but David Wright, on the 10-year anniversary of his debut, punched an RBI single to right.
The Mariners regained the lead on Niese’s first pitch in the bottom of the inning. Zunino drove a fastball into the upper deck beyond the left-field wall. Distance: 415 feet.
Bloomquist and Jones followed with singles, and they moved to second and third on Cano’s slow grounder to third. Seager then flicked a soft single into center that scored Bloomquist for a 3-1 lead.
That also left runners at first and third, but Romero ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
Elias quickly found trouble in the fourth. D’Arnaud poked a one-out single to right, and Chris Young drew a four-pitch walk. But Elias quickly worked out of it: Juan Lagares struck out, and Tejada fouled out to first.
The Mariners extended their lead to 4-1 later in the inning after Corey Hart drew a one-out walk and went to second on Ackley’s single. Zunino struck out, but Bloomquist pumped a drive past Lagares in center.
Both runners should have scored easily, but the ball hopped the wall for a rulebook double. The umpires sent Ackley back to third.