SEATTLE (AP) — Having lost six straight games and 10 of 12 before returning to Safeco Field, Mariners manager Scott Servais met with players in an attempt to get the team to play with better focus and intensity.
The message was heard.
Seth Smith hit his first career grand slam, homering for the fourth straight game and leading the Seattle Mariners over the Baltimore Orioles 9-4 Sunday for a four-game sweep. The Mariners won seven of nine on a homestand that included series against St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
“We didn’t talk at all about wins and losses,” Servais said. “It was just about how we were playing. We weren’t playing well, and we needed to play better. Things happen in this game. You play so many games, but you can control how you play and how you prepare, and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Seattle had 31 runs and 47 hits, including 23 for extra bases, in sweeping the AL East leaders. It was Seattle’s first four-game sweep since July 2012 against Kansas City.
“It seems like we should do it more often,” Kyle Seager said of Servais’ talk. “It worked pretty well.”
Seager felt the team was especially flat when it was swept four games at Detroit.
“It’s up to us to understand that it’s not going to happen just by showing up,” Smith added. “You’ve got to play with intensity, prepare yourself, and it’s got to show up through your effort on the field.”
Hisashi Iwakuma (8-6) limited Baltimore to four runs despite allowing 10 hits in six-plus innings. He struggled with command early and allowed baserunners in every inning except the third.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-8) gave up six runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
With the game scoreless in the third, Chris Iannetta walked leading off, Ketel Marte blooped a single and Leonys Martin reached when he bunted, Jimenez picked up the ball and looked to throw to third, only to find Manny Machado had charged in as well and the base was uncovered. Jimenez had Smith in an 0-2 count before Smith’s slam put the Mariners ahead 4-0.
“That’s the hardest part,” Jimenez said. “To have a hitter like him who is really hot and get ahead, then give up a homer, it’s tough.”
Mark Trumbo’s solo homer and J.J. Hardy’s two-run double pulled Baltimore to 4-3 in the fourth, but Ketel Marte had an RBI double in the bottom half and Jimenez balked with two outs and runners at the corners, breaking his hands and stopping his motion when Martin took off to steal second.
Trumbo had an RBI single against Edwin Diaz in the seventh, cutting Seattle’s lead to 6-4. Kyle Seager hit a two-run double off Ariel Miranda in the bottom half and scored on Adam Lind’s double.
Mariners RHP Edwin Diaz matched Randy Johnson’s franchise record by recording 10 consecutive outs with strikeouts. In his last four appearances, Diaz has allowed three hits in four innings with 10 strikeouts. Johnson accomplished the feat over two starts in July 1997.
Orioles 3B Pedro Alvarez is heading to the Dominican Republic after Sunday’s series finale in Seattle after his grandfather’s death. Alvarez is expected to miss a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers before rejoining the team in Baltimore for Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez had another bullpen session on Sunday and is to throw a simulated game on Tuesday in Houston. If all goes well, he is expected to throw two rehab starts beginning July 10 with Class A Everett. Hernandez has been on the disabled list since June 1 with a strained right calf.
Orioles: RHP Yovani Gallardo (3-1) is to start Monday at the Dodgers. He is 2-0 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts since returning to the rotation on June 18 following a stint on the DL caused by right biceps tendinitis.
Mariners: LHP Wade Miley (6-4) will start at Houston, his second outing since returning from the DL. Miley allowed five runs and seven hits in against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
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