The Mariners’ Jean Segura reacts as he nears home plate after hitting a solo home run against the Tigers during the first inning of a game May 19, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Mariners’ Jean Segura reacts as he nears home plate after hitting a solo home run against the Tigers during the first inning of a game May 19, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

M’s offense backs Paxton’s gem in win over Tigers

The left-handed starter allows 3 hits in a complete game, and Jean Segura homers in Seattle’s 7-2 win.

SEATTLE — James Paxton has hit a groove.

He didn’t strike out 16 batters. Eight this time.

He didn’t throw a no-hitter. Three this time.

But with a Seattle Mariners bullpen that had been teetering on struggling and surviving, Paxton’s complete-game of mostly dominance against the Detroit Tigers in a 7-2 victory on Saturday at Safeco Field continued to cement the Big Maple’s status as their Big Ace.

This was Paxton’s first start in Seattle since throwing the Mariners’ sixth no-hitter in team history on May 8 on his native Canadian soil in Toronto.

“We jumped on his back tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s been fun watching it kind of evolve over the last 4-5 outings and taking a next step — establishing himself as one of the best starters in this league. There’s no question about it.”

This is the third time Paxton has pitched at least seven innings in his past four starts. He now has half of the Mariners’ six outings of seven-plus innings so far this season. The Mariners improved to 26-19 with their second consecutive win.

And Paxton had plenty of run support.

Start with Jean Jean the “hit collector” as general manager Jerry Dipoto prefers to call him.

Jean Segura rocked his third home run of the season in the first inning and then was just a couple of feet short of his second homer the next inning, settling instead for an RBI triple and a 3-0 Mariners lead. He later added a sacrifice fly.

Since his good friend, Robinson Cano, broke his finger on a hit-by-pitch on Sunday and later earned an 80-game drug suspension from MLB, Segura has shouldered a load, batting .414 (12-for-29) since Cano’s been out.

Combining with Segura’s hits, Ben Gamel had solo home run (his first of the season) to stake the Mariners to a 3-1 lead after two innings.

But they had yet to take off until the sixth.

It began much like the Mariners’ five-run seventh to erase the Tigers’ 4-0 lead on Friday. Kyle Seager drew a walk and Ryon Healy followed with a base hit.

As they’ve been saying lately — keep the lineup moving.

Mike Zunino followed with one of his better at-bats in a while. He stuck with an outside fastball off the plate for a line drive the other way to score a run.

After Guillermo Heredia, who tripled his previous at-bat, drew a walk to load the bases, Dee Gordon showed why they call him “The Flash.”

His chopper up the middle deflected off of reliever Artie Lewickie’s glove and the ball grounded into right field. And about the time Nicholas Castellanos got to it, Gordon was sliding into second base with a double.

That pushed the Mariners’ lead to 7-2.

And that was plenty for Paxton, who threw a season-high 117 pitches for the three-hitter. He allowed two runs and one walk with eight strikeouts. The lone mistake came in the second inning when veteran Victor Martinez smoked a 1-0 fastball over the left-field wall.

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