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Elias gets back on track as Mariners top Mets

Seager's two RBIs help rookie lefty earn first win since June 22

SEATTLE -- Rookie southpaw Roenis Elias picked up his first victory in nearly a month as the Mariners topped the Mets, 5-2, in Monday night's opener of a three-game Interleague series at Safeco Field.

Elias evened his record at 8-8 with a 4.41 ERA as he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings before being taken out of the game when his left forearm began cramping up at the end of a 90-pitch outing.

"My starter was pretty darn good," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "He just had a cramp and I didn't want to take a chance, but he was outstanding and that was really good to see."

Elias allowed five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts as the 25-year-old snapped a personal three-game losing streak, winning for the first time since June 22 after going 0-3 with a 10.05 ERA in his final three starts before the All-Star break.

"The rest definitely helped," said Elias, whose 118 1/3 innings are the second-most of any rookie in the Majors behind only the 129 1/3 by Yankees standout Masahiro Tanaka. "It especially helped seeing my son and my wife. It gave me more energy to go forward as the season goes along."

Catcher Mike Zunino said he could see a renewed Elias, as the youngster was pitching for the first time in 12 days.

"He just came out and attacked hitters," Zunino said. "Whether it was a little rest and having a few days off or being able to regroup and regather, he just came out with a good game plan and stuck to it."

Elias' cramp isn't expected to be an issue going forward and Zunino said he just hustled out to the mound after seeing the southpaw stretching his left hand out after throwing his last few pitches. Zunino said Elias actually threw his best curveball of the game after McClendon and trainer Rob Nodine came out to the mound to check on him initially, with McClendon then pulling him after he struck out the next batter he faced.

"I'm happy he was able to finish that batter off, but that's something we didn't want to mess with," Zunino said. "He's been such a big part of where we are right now, and I wanted to make sure he stays healthy."

Relievers Dominic Leone, Charlie Furbush, Brandon Maurer and Danny Farquhar held the Mets just an unearned run over the final 3 2/3 innings to preserve the win for Elias.

Dustin Ackley went 3-for-4 with an RBI double capping the Mariners scoring in the eighth and also saved a run for Leone when he went above the fence in left field to rob Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud of a home run in the sixth inning.

Ackley has hit .360 (18-for-50) in July to raise his average to .239 and he's 8-for-18 (.444) in the four games since the All-Star break.

"He's swinging the bat pretty good," said McClendon. "Sometimes, I think it's Jekyll and Hyde. He's very aggressive. He's looking for pitches to drive and he's doing just that. That's the good Ackley."

Veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot with a double, an RBI and two runs scored while getting the start at shortstop, while third baseman Kyle Seager notched a pair of RBI singles and Zunino hit his 14th home run of the season.

"If we're going to make a push here, we're going to need to score some runs," Bloomquist said after his season-high three hits. "That's something we as a team need to do a better job of. We've run into some pretty good pitching lately, so every game we've been in has been close and it's come down to a big hit here or there. So it was nice to jump out to a lead and get out of the gate early and put a few runs on the board. Hopefully we can continue that."

Seager increased his team-leading RBI total to 66 and continued his hot streak at home. With a 2-for-4 night, the Mariners' All-Star third baseman is batting .485 (32-for-66) with 22 RBIs over his last 18 games at Safeco Field.

The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the first as Seager drove in Bloomquist after he led off the game with a single and stole second.

The Mets tied the game in the third when Ruben Tejada walked, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on David Wright's base hit.

But Seattle responded with two runs in the third as Zunino led off the frame with an upper-deck blast above the out-of-town scoreboard before Seager added his second run-scoring single of the night. Seager is just three RBIs shy of his 2013 total of 69.

The Mariners improved to 53-46 on the season, while the Mets are 46-53. The two teams are meeting for the first time since 2008 and Seattle owns an 8-2 record in the all-time series, including a 4-0 mark at Safeco Field.

The win increased Seattle's lead in the race for the American League's second Wild Card berth to 2 1/2 games over the Blue Jays and Yankees, who both lost on Monday.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Roenis Elias, Mike Zunino, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager