ANAHEIM -- Thanks to a solid outing from spot starter Roenis Elias and his bullpen buddies, the Mariners topped the Angels, 5-0, on Friday to pull off their first back-to-back victories in three weeks.Elias and five relievers held the Halos to six hits, helped by center fielder Dee Gordon's home
ANAHEIM -- Thanks to a solid outing from spot starter Roenis Elias and his bullpen buddies, the Mariners topped the Angels, 5-0, on Friday to pull off their first back-to-back victories in three weeks.
Elias and five relievers held the Halos to six hits, helped by center fielder Dee Gordon's home run-saving catch of a Michael Trout drive, as Seattle improved to 81-66 and stayed 8 1/2 games back of Oakland for the American League's final Wild Card berth.
That playoff race is all but over, given any combination of seven Oakland wins or Seattle losses over the final 15 games will mathematically eliminate the Mariners. But the Mariners would like to salvage what they can from a struggling second half, and they're now 2-0 on their final 10-game road trip of the season and 10-7 on the season against the Angels.
With scheduled starter James Paxton sidelined by a mild form of pneumonia, the Mariners got a nice boost from long reliever Elias. The 30-year-old lefty allowed just one hit with two walks and four strikeouts in 58 pitches over 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
"They called me this morning at 11 and told me I was going to start," Elias said through interpreter Nasusel Cabrera. "I was ready even before they told me because I knew something could happen."
Adam Warren, Shawn Armstrong, Nick Vincent, Zach Duke and Ryan Cook followed in relief, allowing just five hits and a walk over the final 5 1/3 frames.
"We shut them out on a bullpen night, so a lot of credit to our guys," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Elias hasn't been out there. He'll pitch a lot and then sit for seven or eight days. I thought his stuff was really good. Warren did a good job. All the guys chipped in. Vincent is on a nice run here. He's pitched really well the last couple months of the season. It's nice to get all those guys in there and all of them contributed."
Seattle has struggled to score runs, ranking last in the AL since the All-Star break, but the Mariners bunched four hits in the fourth off Angels starter Matthew Shoemaker to take a 3-0 lead. Robinson Cano's RBI single got Seattle on the board, and Ryon Healy followed with a two-run base hit.
Gordon's two-run single in the seventh upped the lead to 5-0 and was a welcome boost for the speedy 30-year-old, as he'd hit just .197 in 33 games since Aug. 1.
"That was big, especially with runners in scoring position," Gordon said. "I've been having a terrible year this year with that, so it was good to see some grass and give us some insurance runs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Healy has been one of the few Mariners carrying a hot bat over the past month, and he contributed another key hit with his two-run single in the fourth providing some early breathing room. The 26-year-old first baseman has hit .306 (26-for-85) with 17 RBIs in 24 games since Aug. 11 to raise his season totals to .244 with 73 RBIs.
"The clutch two-out, two-run single by Healy kind of flipped the game in our favor there and gave us a little breathing room," Servais said. "We haven't had a lot of that and that's what it takes."
It was just the third time this season the Mariners have had back-to-back wins without needing to use closer Edwin Diaz, who leads the Majors with 54 saves. Though he warmed up in the ninth when Cook allowed back-to-back singles to open the frame, the Mariners got out of that unscathed. The last time Diaz wasn't needed in consecutive victories was June 28-29 in wins over the Orioles and Royals.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gordon has played primarily in the infield since Cano drew his 80-game suspension in mid-May, moving back to second base and also working at shortstop some in recent weeks. But he's still playing center field on occasion and found a way to rob Trout of a home run in the fourth inning with a catch that won't earn many style points, but saved Elias a run as he pulled down the ball at the top of the fence before landing on his backside on the warning track and unleashing a trademark Gordon grin and double fist pump.
"That was pretty cool," Gordon said. "That was the first one in my life and I was happy."
HE SAID IT
"It's been weird. But I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Anybody who doesn't play in the big leagues would like to be in my shoes, and I definitely don't take it for granted." -- Gordon, on his up-and-down first season in Seattle while playing multiple positions and struggling at the plate in the second half
Erasmo Ramirez (2-3, 5.31 ERA) faces Angels southpaw Andrew Heaney (9-9, 3.98) in Saturday's 6:07 p.m. PT game at Angel Stadium. The 28-year-old right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in six starts since returning from arm issues in mid-August. Ramirez hasn't faced the Angels this year, but is 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 games (eight starts) against the Halos in his career.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.