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Mariners win 9th in 10 games behind Gonzales

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Marco Gonzales didn't have his best stuff. Guillermo Heredia and Chris Herrmann weren't even supposed to be in the lineup. But as has been the case often this season for the Mariners, everything came out fine in the end as Seattle topped the Angels, 4-1, on Thursday to win another series at Safeco Field.

Gonzales (9-5, 3.64 ERA) worked six innings of one-run ball, overcoming some early struggles by stranding six runners in the first three frames. The lefty allowed five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in a 102-pitch outing to become Seattle's first nine-game winner this season.

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SEATTLE -- Marco Gonzales didn't have his best stuff. Guillermo Heredia and Chris Herrmann weren't even supposed to be in the lineup. But as has been the case often this season for the Mariners, everything came out fine in the end as Seattle topped the Angels, 4-1, on Thursday to win another series at Safeco Field.

Gonzales (9-5, 3.64 ERA) worked six innings of one-run ball, overcoming some early struggles by stranding six runners in the first three frames. The lefty allowed five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in a 102-pitch outing to become Seattle's first nine-game winner this season.

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"It was a constant battle," Gonzales said. "From the first couple pitches, I was like, 'Oh boy.' It's a night without your sinker, and honestly, I didn't have a very good changeup either, so it was just a constant chess game."

Heredia initially had the night off, but was a late addition when a bruised right knee sidelined Mitch Haniger. The 27-year-old Cuban had a hand in each of Seattle's first two runs, doubling and scoring on Dee Gordon's RBI single in the third and then driving in Ben Gamel from first with a double over the head of left fielder Justin Upton in the fifth for a 2-1 lead.

Video: LAA@SEA: Herrmann belts 1st homer of the year

Herrmann, elevated to starting catcher when Mike Zunino went on the 10-day disabled list before the game with a bruised left ankle, launched his first home run for his first RBI with the Mariners to give Seattle a 3-1 lead in the seventh.

"I didn't even know Mike was hurt until I got here about 2 o'clock today," Herrmann said. "I'm just trying to do my part and fill in while he's gone, and contribute as much as I can to this team."

The two late replacements hit in the Nos. 8 and 9 spots in the order, yet carried the offense.

Video: LAA@SEA: Servais on Gonzales' start in win

"Total team effort," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We got contributions from the bottom of the lineup tonight, which was huge. And Herrmann never caught Marco before. It took him a little while to kind of get a feel for what was working and how to manipulate through the game tonight. Those guys -- maybe not the headline guys everybody gets excited about -- but that's what really makes this team good, is everybody contributes, everybody shows up every night."

Video: LAA@SEA: Cruz translates for Heredia after the game

The Mariners also got two hits -- including a triple -- and an RBI and run scored from leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, who also had a spectacular defensive play at second base. Jean Segura also added two hits and an RBI.

Relievers James Pazos, Alex Colome and Edwin Diaz pitched the final three scoreless frames for Seattle, with Diaz striking out the side in the ninth for his Major League-leading 34th save.

Video: LAA@SEA: Diaz strikes out the side, records 34th save

The victory kept Seattle (56-32) 1 1/2 games behind the Astros in the American League West. The Mariners have won nine of their last 10 games and are tied for the second-best mark in franchise history through 88 games, behind only the 2001 club that finished 116-46.

The Mariners are 6-3 against the Angels, who fell to 44-44 and are 12 games back of Seattle in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Early confidence boost: Gonzales was in trouble early as he loaded the bases with one out in the first on walks by David Fletcher and Justin Upton around a single by Andrelton Simmons. But after catching Mike Trout looking at a called third strike for the first out, he escaped the jam by inducing a 5-4-3 double play grounder by Albert Pujols. And that set the tone for a gritty outing for Gonzales, whose only run allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Kole Calhoun in the fourth.

"For me, it all starts with the starting pitcher tonight," Servais said. "Marco has been outstanding, but his last time out, he throws a complete game. Tonight, he goes out there and in the first inning, he did not have it. He really didn't. And I've been around a long time and you see pitchers, guys with six, seven years experience in this league, that panic. They just don't have it, and they throw in the towel. It says a lot about his maturity and where he's at for him to gut it out with all that traffic."

Video: LAA@SEA: Gonzales escapes a bases-loaded jam in 1st

SOUND SMART
Diaz's 34th save ties him with John Smoltz of the Braves in 2003 for the second most saves by a closer prior to the All-Star break, behind only the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez, who had 38 before the break in 2008. The Mariners have nine games remaining before the break.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gordon made the play of the game -- and one of the best defensive gems of the season -- with a fully extended dive to glove a line drive up the middle by Ian Kinsler to get Colome out of a tough spot in the eighth. The Angels had runners on first and second with two outs when Gordon took matters into his own hands to preserve the 4-1 lead, with the crowd of 32,128 giving him a standing ovation as he trotted to the dugout.

"It looked like Superman was flying through the outfield, and somehow the ball magically landed in his glove," Herrmann said. "What an unbelievable play. I know Dee has only been there a month and a half now, but I think he's a second baseman at heart. He's been there his whole career, and he definitely showed with that play he belongs at second base. That was a game-changer." More >

Video: Must C Catch: Gordon's diving catch up the middle

HE SAID IT
"I haven't always been that pitcher. Frankly, being healthy and having the new approach this year has helped with that. The old me probably would have made it through three tonight and called it a game. I'm very fortunate to have made strides in the right direction in that sense and figure out how to battle when you don't have your best stuff." -- Gonzales, on his gritty outing

UP NEXT
Felix Hernandez (8-6, 5.11 ERA) opens a three-game Interleague series against the Rockies on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field. The 32-year-old right-hander has pitched better of late, posting a 3.13 ERA over his last four starts. This will be the second time Hernandez faces the Rockies in his 14-year-career, having allowed four runs on 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-7 win at Coors Field in 2015. Colorado will start right-hander German Marquez (6-8, 5.14).

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Marco Gonzales