CLEVELAND – When Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate in the ninth inning, he wasn’t thinking about any individual accomplishments.
Despite the fact he had already hit two two-run homers and a triple, the Seattle Mariners left fielder had only one thing on his mind.
“This would have been a heartbreaking loss,” he said. “To have a seven-run lead and lose, it would have been a long 50-minute flight.”
Ibanez made sure the Mariners’ trip to Chicago, where they open a three-game series against the Cubs on Tuesday night, was a short one. His run-scoring double, his fifth RBI of the game, gave Seattle an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
After Cleveland rallied to tie the game in the eighth, Jose Vidro started the ninth with a single off Joe Borowski (0-3). Ibanez doubled to right-center with one out, leading the Mariners to their fourth straight win and eighth in the last nine games.
Ibanez finished a single shy of the cycle. It was the sixth time he hit two homers in a game, the last coming on June 24, 2006, at San Diego. It was the 10th four-hit game of his career.
“Raul swung the bat well,” Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. “He was big tonight.”
Borowski took responsibility for the loss.
“With a game like that you know the guys battled back and played great and you have to go back out there and shut them down,” he said. “Sometimes it just happens.”
Brandon Morrow (3-0) pitched the last two innings for the win, despite allowing the Indians to tie the game in the eighth.
Trailing 7-0, the Indians scored three runs in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the eighth.
Ibanez, who came into the game with two home runs in 209 at-bats this season, homered in the third and fourth innings off starter Paul Byrd.
Josh Barfield singled off George Sherrill to start the eighth. Pinch-hitter Victor Martinez singled off Morrow, moving Barfield to third. Grady Sizemore walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Pinch-hitter David Dellucci hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Barfield.
Casey Blake’s double into the left field corner tied the game, but Dellucci was thrown out at home on a relay from Ibanez to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to catcher Kenji Johjima.
“The angle is a little weird in the corner out there,” Ibanez said. “I tried to give Yuniesky a good throw, but he had to catch it a little off to his side. He made a great throw home.”
Jhonny Peralta walked to load the bases, but Ryan Garko, in a 1-for-25 slump, struck out.
Cha Seung Baek allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings. The Mariners used four relief pitchers. Closer J.J Putz, second in the AL with 18 saves, was unavailable because he saved all three games of Seattle’s sweep of San Diego over the weekend.
“I knew in the eighth inning that it would be up to me to finish, unless we went into extra innings,” Morrow said. “After that inning, I tried to stay positive. I didn’t let myself get down.”
Jose Lopez added a two-run homer in the third, also off Byrd.
Ibanez is batting .550 (11-for-20) with two home runs and eight RBIs in his career against Byrd, who allowed seven runs and 11 hits in four innings, his shortest outing of the season.
“I might have had one good game off him,” Ibanez said, playing down the gaudy stats against Byrd. “I think those numbers are deceiving.”
Byrd had a different point of view.
“The way he played tonight, he should have 20 home runs,” he said. “I have no idea how he only had two (going into the game). He killed us.”
Travis Hafner’s single with the bases loaded scored two runs in the fifth, snapping a 16-inning scoreless streak for the Indians. Cleveland was shut out for 12 innings Sunday in a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati.
“Our guys showed great fight,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “They never quit. They kept working. We just came up a little short. We weren’t able to get the final hit to take a one-run or two-run lead.”
Blake, who had three hits, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games.
Notes:@ The game was a makeup of an April 7 snowout at Jacobs Field. … Indians OF Trot Nixon committed his first error since May 29 of last season in the sixth inning. … The Mariners have won 15 of their last 20. … Several seagulls invaded the ballpark and spent most of the game milling around in the outfield grass.