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Quintero's home run caps Mariners' big comeback

Catcher's two-run shot part of six-run inning after Harang struggles

SEATTLE -- Aaron Harang got shelled early in Wednesday afternoon's game against the Blue Jays, but Humberto Quintero and the Mariners rallied from an early deficit to win, 9-7, in front of 34,792 fans at Safeco Field. After losing the first two games of the three-game series against Toronto, Seattle salvaged a win to give the teams identical 53-61 records.

Quintero -- the No. 9 hitter in the Seattle lineup -- capped a six-run fifth inning with a two-run homer that was the difference. It was the catcher's second homer since joining the Mariners on July 26 to split time with Henry Blanco while Mike Zunino recovers from a wrist injury.

"[Quintero's] been putting up some real good at-bats, he's doing a great job behind the plate. Both of those guys have had some big hits for us, some big home runs for us," acting manager Robby Thompson said of his part-time catchers.

Despite needing only 11 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 first inning, Harang lasted just two-plus frames. The 35-year-old gave up seven runs on five hits and three walks. He could never find his control, throwing only 31 of 53 pitches for strikes.

After scoring early against Harang, the Blue Jays were shut down by Seattle's relievers. The Mariners' bullpen pitched seven shutout innings and Danny Farquhar picked up his third straight save in his new role as the team's closer. Rookie Brandon Maurer, who relieved Harang, tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings despite allowing three hits and five walks for his third win of the season.

The Mariners started off well enough, taking a 2-0 lead in the first. Brad Miller led off with a single against Toronto starter J.A. Happ, making his first start in three months after getting hit in the head with batted ball. He scored on the first triple of rookie second baseman Nick Franklin's career to snap an 0-for-27 slump. Kyle Seager's RBI groundout brought Franklin home.

Toronto responded quickly. Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind drew walks to lead off the second before Brett Lawrie's single scored Encarnacion. Josh Thole drove in Lind and Lawrie with a double to give Toronto a 3-2 lead. Mark DeRosa, who preceded Thole's double with a walk, scored on a groundout by Jose Reyes, and Emilio Bonifacio singled to score Thole and make it 5-2.

"I was feeling fine," Harang said, "felt like in the first inning I came out throwing strikes. In the second inning, I was just missing with pitches, felt I made a couple good pitches, but the ball just fell in. Thole's double was a fastball down and away, and he just flicked it right down the line."

Harang was in the game to begin the third, but was chased by back-to-back home runs from Encarnacion and Lind before recording an out.

Seattle got a run in the fourth when Michael Saunders singled, advanced on a wild pitch by Happ, took third on a Dustin Ackley single, and scored on a fielder's-choice groundout by Quintero.

"I've been feeling better the whole year," Quintero said. "I'm feeling really good at the plate right now and trying to hit the ball to the metal."

Down 7-3, the Mariners scored six runs in the fifth to take a 9-7 lead. Franklin reached second to lead off the inning thanks to an error by Lawrie, who let a routine grounder bounce past him at third base. Seager singled and Kendrys Morales hit a ground-rule double to score Franklin.

After Michael Morse drew a walk, Saunders grounded into a forceout to score Seager. Morales and Morse then scored on Justin Smoak's double off the top of the center-field wall, and Quintero broke a 7-7 tie with a two-run shot to left to score Ackley. Just before Quintero's blast, Smoak was caught trying to return to third base after initially heading home on Ackley's grounder to short.

It was the fourth time this year the Mariners have scored six or more runs in an inning. Three of those innings have come after the All-Star break.

"You expect to win those games," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We didn't pitch too well today. It was good to see [Happ] back there. He looked fine as far as good velocity, everything looked good … just not enough strikes."

The Blue Jays mounted a rally in the sixth, loading the bases with one out thanks to a single by Jose Bautista and a pair of walks issued by Maurer. Charlie Furbush relieved Maurer, and struck out Lind before Miller charged across the infield from his shortstop position to scoop up a grounder by Colby Rasmus and throw him out at first by a fraction of a second, allowing Seattle to escape the inning unscathed.

"My job is to come in there and try to limit the damage as best as possible, try to get ahead and get strike one and take it one pitch at a time," Furbush said. "Obviously I got that first strikeout, so I felt pretty comfortable going up against Rasmus. I threw a good pitch inside, and Miller came in and made an outstanding play."

Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Aaron Harang, Humberto Quintero