SEATTLE -- For the Mariners, winning one-run games is becoming habit-forming. And a pretty good habit at that.Mike Zunino's two-out homer off Twins reliever Matt Magill in the 12th inning lifted the Mariners to a 4-3 win and their fourth walk-off win of the season Saturday night at Safeco Field.It
SEATTLE -- For the Mariners, winning one-run games is becoming habit-forming. And a pretty good habit at that.
Mike Zunino's two-out homer off Twins reliever Matt Magill in the 12th inning lifted the Mariners to a 4-3 win and their fourth walk-off win of the season Saturday night at Safeco Field.
It was the Mariners' club record-tying sixth straight one-run game -- including three extra-inning victories -- and they've won five of those six while building their Major League-leading one-run victory total to 15-8.
"It's unbelievable," said Zunino, who had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before launching the second walk-off homer of his career. "You never know who it's going to be on any given day. The starts we've been getting from our starters, the plays we've been making on the field. No matter who it is, guys have stepped up."
The surging Mariners have won nine of 12 games since Robinson Cano broke his hand and was subsequently suspended, and are now two games back of Houston in the American League West, at 31-20.
"It's really remarkable, the run we've been on and how we've done it," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "It was a tremendous effort by our pitching staff tonight. All of them had a hand in it. Our pitching is what has kept us going in this streak we're in right now. It's kept us right in all these games and somehow we figure out how to get a big hit late in the game and we did it again tonight."
Six Seattle relievers allowed one run over six innings. Chasen Bradford got the win after pitching a scoreless 12th, with help from Zunino throwing out Gregorio Petit trying to steal for the final out. Juan Nicasio retired the Twins in order in the 10th and 11th with five strikeouts.
Nelson Cruz ended a rare power drought with a two-run homer in the sixth inning to give Seattle a 3-2 lead before Minnesota tied it on an RBI single by Eduardo Escobar off reliever James Pazos in the eighth.
Wade LeBlanc cruised through five scoreless innings with one hit before giving up a pair of runs in the sixth on RBI doubles by Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario. LeBlanc has posted a 1.71 ERA in five starts since replacing the injured Erasmo Ramirez with 21 hits and four walks allowed in 26 1/3 innings.
LeBlanc isn't worried about whether he deserves a permanent spot in the rotation.
"They give me the ball and I've said it a million times, I'm going to throw it until they take it from me," LeBlanc said. "Whether it's as a starter or reliever, as long as they give me a jersey and a hat, I'm going to keep running out there."
The Mariners have an ERA of 2.03 over their last 12 games and were helped by several outstanding defensive plays in this one. In addition to Zunino's big throw in the 12th, Mitch Haniger threw out Logan Morrison trying to stretch a single in the ninth and Zunino ended the Twins' eighth-inning rally by redirecting a throw home from Haniger to second to nail Escobar after his tying single.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hampered by foot and elbow injuries in recent days, Cruz had gone 16 games without an extra-base hit -- the second-longest dry spell of his career -- and was 9-for-54 (.167) in that span unil launching his two-run homer in the sixth. Cruz's first home run since May 3 helped the Mariners overcome a 2-0 deficit after Segura had led off the sixth with a solo shot.
Center fielder Byron Buxton crashed into the wall trying to haul in the line drive that just cleared the fence and had to be taken out of the game.
"If it stays in the yard, he catches it," said Cruz. "He's too fast."
The only other time the Mariners played six straight one-run games in franchise history was July 1-6, 1991. While the Mariners are 15-8 in one-run decisions, the Twins are 3-10 and have lost their last seven in a row.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Twins tried to rally against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth as Morrison attempted to stretch a one-out single into the right-field corner. But Haniger corraled the ball quickly and fired a strike to shortstop Andrew Romine to nail Morrison sliding into second. Diaz then retired Petit on a grounder to preserve the 3-3 tie.
HE SAID IT
"I tried to hit smart one time." -- Zunino, on pulling the ball out to left field on a cool night with the wind blowing in when several teammates saw deep shots to center die at the warning track in the late innings
Right-hander Mike Leake (4-3, 5.46 ERA) faces Twins right-hander Jose Berrios (5-4, 3.82 ERA) in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT series finale at Safeco Field. Leake is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA and 11 strikeouts and one walk over his last three starts. He beat the Twins in his second outing of the season, allowing three hits and two runs in five innings in an 11-4 win at Target Field, in which he also was opposed by Berrios.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.