SEATTLE -- James Paxton won his fifth straight decision for the Mariners and got plenty of help from his friends as resurgent Seattle rolled to a 12-3 victory over the American League Central-leading Twins in Tuesday's series opener at Safeco Field.
Paxton improved to 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA as he won his second game since returning from a four-week stint on the disabled list with a strained forearm, allowing five hits and three runs over five frames.
"Physically I feel great," Paxton said. "I wasn't as sharp tonight. I felt a little off mechanically, just couldn't really find my rhythm. But that happens. I picked a good game to do it when we scored 12 runs, so it worked out OK."
The Mariners (29-30) have won eight of their last nine by a 69-25 margin and they stayed hot with the bats by equaling a season high for runs, led by three-run homers by Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager and a three-run double by Danny Valencia.
• Mariners offense keeps rolling
James Dozier hit his ninth homer of the year for the Twins with a solo shot off Paxton in the fourth, but Minnesota trailed from start to finish in falling to 17-7 on the road and 29-25 overall, still one game up on Cleveland in the Central race.
Twins southpaw Hector Santiago continued his recent struggles as he surrendered five runs on three hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings in falling to 4-6 with a 5.26 ERA. The 29-year-old is 0-5 with a 9.93 ERA over his last six starts.
• Command issues plague Santiago
"He came out, he didn't have command early, a couple of walks, and then a three-run homer before you could even blink," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It seemed like he settled down a little bit after that, but he walked four guys in the first two innings and they all scored."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cano gets in the act: While the Mariners have been racking up big offensive numbers lately, their All-Star second baseman had been quiet over the past week. But Cano snapped an 0-for-9 slump and a 3-for-18 homestand with his three-run blast after Santiago walked Guillermo Heredia and Valencia leading off the first. Cano's 11th homer of the year was projected at 389 feet by Statcast™ as he turned around a 79-mph off-speed pitch and drove it on a line shot that had a 107 mph exit velocity. Cano was just 3-for-24 against Santiago coming into the game.
"He's hit the ball very well," said Mariners skipper Scott Servais. "The last series he probably should have had five or six hits. He was very unlucky. Robbie will get his. He's too good a hitter not to have it turn. And when you hit it over the fence, they can't catch it, so that's a good thing."
A pair of threes: The Mariners dealt up a winning hand in the fourth with a three-run double by Valencia, followed by a three-run homer by Seager as they rolled up seven runs off relievers Randy Rosario and Alex Wimmers to take a 12-2 lead. Valencia battled Rosario through an eight-pitch at-bat -- just missing a grand slam with a long foul down the left-field line -- before blasting a double into the right-center gap. The former Twin has been red hot of late, going 10-for-13 with a pair of walks over his last four games. Seager then finished off the frame with his sixth homer of the year, a shot to right off Wimmers.
"His quality of at-bats has been great," Servais said of Valencia. "The lefty Rosario threw the cutter down and in and he stayed inside on it and fouled it. After [almost] hitting a home run, you think, OK, now I'm going to really smoke this one. And he didn't. He stayed with a very good approach, got a fastball out and drove it in the gap. Again, not trying to do too much, understanding the situation and having a quality at-bat and putting a good swing on it instead of trying to hit a grand slam. He's in a really good spot right now."
"Something to learn from for sure. I think I burned myself out mentally between innings, staying too high in kind of a spooled-up place mentally. I'll learn from that and be able to deal with it better next time." -- Paxton, who said the long early innings offensively disrupted his rhythm
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Twins catcher Chris Gimenez pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to save the Twins bullpen in a blowout, his fourth appearance on the mound this season. Gimenez became the Twins' all-time leader in position-player pitching appearances with four. Gimenez has accrued seven different relief outings in his career, but Tuesday's was the first in which he caught in the same game. Eduardo Escobar filled in behind the plate when Gimenez took the mound, his first time catching in a Major League game.
ANOTHER GEM FOR BUXTON
Byron Buxton made a four-star catch on Boog Powell's line drive to left-center field to end the fifth inning, according to Statcast™. The center fielder had 4.4 seconds to cover 76 feet and had a 44 percent chance of making the catch, according to Statcast™. It was Buxton's league-leading 11th four-star grab of the year, which includes any catch made with a probability between 25 and 50 percent.
Twins: Rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia makes his seventh start of the season Wednesday at 9:10 p.m. CT in the penultimate contest of the Twins' 10-game road trip. Mejia boasts a 3.00 ERA in his last three starts.
Mariners: Veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-6, 6.24 ERA) will try to get back on track in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game against the Twins as he's lost his last three starts with a 12.75 ERA and 22 hits allowed in 12 innings.
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