SEATTLE -- James Paxton capped a near-perfect month with his franchise-record sixth win in July on Sunday, striking out eight over six shutout innings in the Mariners' 9-1 win over the Mets. The victory secured a series win for the Mariners, moving them back to .500.
"Paxton, what a month. Wow," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "6-0 in July and kind of leading us charging up the mountain. I don't even think he had his best stuff today. Just a tick off on his breaking pitches, but his fastball was really good and he pounded the zone, got ahead in the count and just got us where we needed to go."
Though Paxton did not have a clean inning all afternoon, he scattered six singles and two hit batsmen over six innings, and allowed just two runners to reach scoring position. The left-hander finished July with a 6-0 record and a 1.37 ERA, third in the Majors behind Chris Sale and Aaron Nola.
"That's what it's all about, being able to pitch when you don't have your best stuff," Paxton said. "I've gotten better at that over this year, not having my best stuff sometimes and finding a way to get it done."
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Nelson Cruz and Leonys Martin both homered off Mets starter Seth Lugo, who allowed five runs in five innings to take the loss. Ben Gamel and Danny Valencia also drove home late insurance runs for the Mariners.
The Mets, by contrast, have shifted their focus to 2018. They plan to be active in the hours leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, with closer Addison Reed, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and other veterans up for sale.
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"We'll have to wait and see," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "This stuff goes down to the wire. A lot can happen either way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Straightening it out: Just prior to hitting his three-run homer in the first, Cruz squared up a pair of Lugo fastballs, hitting 111- and 112-mph foul balls in succession. Lugo's next pitch was an 84-mph changeup, which did not fool Cruz. The resulting blast came off his bat at 110 mph, plating Jean Segura and Robinson Cano.
"I threw it where I wanted to. It was just the wrong pitch," Lugo said. "He yanked a couple fastballs foul. He was early, out front, and I threw the fastball in the same spot, five or six miles per hour slower. I figured I'd catch him out front. But he's a good hitter. He stayed back on it."
Martin saves a run, scores another: The Mets' best rally against Paxton unfolded in the second inning, when two men reached base with one out. The next batter, Curtis Granderson, shot a line drive to right field, where Martin made a sliding grab to force both runners to retreat. Paxton struck out Travis d'Arnaud to end the threat.
Half an inning later, Martin crushed a 394-foot solo homer into the second deck in right field, giving the Mariners a 4-0 lead.
"We know what's ahead of us. We will embrace what is ahead of us. We're not going to shy away from it. You look at the schedule way back in January when I was first asked about it, right from the get-go, it is what it is. We've played a lot of home games, we've been good at home in some points and not so good at some points. We have an interesting August ahead of us, but it's good to end it on a high note at home" -- Servais, on the Mariners playing 20 of their 27 games in August on the road.
"Obviously things have derailed our season a little bit -- mostly injuries. Coming in here at the beginning of the year in Spring Training, I thought we were World Series contenders. It's part of the game, obviously. And the team has to figure out how they want to approach the future." -- Bruce, on the non-waiver Trade Deadline
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes departed in the fifth inning, after a 98-mph Paxton fastball struck him on the left forearm. X-rays on Reyes' arm came back negative, but the Mets plan to send the results to New York to double check. When asked if he'll be able to return to the lineup on Tuesday, Reyes replied, "We'll see."
Mets: Mets players and coaches will keep one eye on their smartphones during their off day in Denver, checking to see if any of their friends get traded. Following Monday's deadline, they will open a three-game set Tuesday against the Rockies at Coors Field. Steven Matz, who is 0-3 with a 14.18 ERA his last four starts, will take on right-hander Jeff Hoffman in the 8:40 p.m. ET opener.
Mariners: The Mariners travel south to Arlington, Texas to open a three-game series with the Rangers in a 5:05 p.m. PT start on Monday. Felix Hernandez is making his 52nd start against the Rangers, his most-faced team in the MLB.
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