SEATTLE — Rookie Jeff Clement homered in his final two at-bats, the second a two-run shot off Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney in the eighth inning that lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 3-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday night.
Clement was all the offense the Mariners got on a night where all five runs came via the long ball. His solo homer in the sixth off Detroit starter Armando Galarraga brought Seattle within 2-1 and snapped an 0-for-11 skid.
In the eighth, Richie Sexson walked with one out and pinch-runner Miguel Cairo stole second. On the next pitch, Clement jumped on Rodney (0-2), sending the two-run shot 395-feet into the right field stands.
Clement’s first two-homer game made up for a night of missed opportunities by the Mariners offense. He also made a winner out of Seattle reliever Miguel Batista (4-10), who pitched two innings of relief. Brandon Morrow worked the ninth for his seventh save in seven chances.
Carlos Guillen and Miguel Cabrera provided the offense for Detroit, each hitting solo homers off Seattle starter R.A. Dickey. That seemed like enough offense for Galarraga, who skirted trouble for most of the night and was in line for his eighth win of the season before Clement’s heroics. Galarraga scattered five hits in his six innings, striking out two and walking three.
Galarraga was challenged numerous times by Seattle’s offense, only to record key outs at the right times. Seattle moved runners into scoring position three times against the Tigers’ rookie, only to see those runners never advance further.
In the second and third innings, Seattle put runners on first and second with one out and failed to advance either runner. Ichiro Suzuki led off the third with a single and Jose Lopez walked, but Ibanez popped out to right, Jose Vidro weakly grounded back to the mound and Adrian Beltre struck out.
In the fifth, Beltre grounded out with Lopez and Ibanez standing on second and third. Beltre hit another ground ball to end the seventh with Lopez again at third. Seattle left 11 runners total.
Dickey again got little offensive help. In four of his last five starts, the Mariners have failed to score more than one run while the knuckleballer has been on the mound. Dickey went six innings, allowing four hits and walked five.
Detroit had a chance to extend its lead and likely knock out Dickey in the fifth. With runners on first and second and one out, Placido Polanco singled into left. Dane Sardinha, who was running on the pitch from second, was sent home by Tigers’ third base coach Gene Lamont.
Raul Ibanez fielded the ball cleanly and made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate where Clement blocked Sardinha’s slide as the ball arrived, keeping it a two-run game. Dickey proceeded to walk Guillen to load the bases but got a fly out from Cabrera to end the inning.
The play at the plate highlighted a superb defensive night by the Mariners outfield. Center fielder Jeremy Reed went crashing into the wall in the first to track down a drive by Cabrera, then sprawled to make a diving grab of Edgar Renteria’s liner in the seventh. Ibanez also made a sliding grab in left field in the third..