CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyle Seager certainly looked like a cleanup hitter Wednesday night, but he has no interest in the job on a permanent basis.
Seager, batting fourth in place of ailing Nelson Cruz, hit a grand slam and drove in five runs to lead the Seattle Mariners past the Cleveland Indians 9-3 Wednesday night.
Cruz, who leads the American League with 18 home runs, missed the game because of back spasms.
Seager helped Seattle win for the second straight day at Progressive Field after a 2-9 homestand. He connected in the third inning against Trevor Bauer (5-3) and added an RBI double in the seventh.
Despite his results, Seager wants to see one of the league’s most productive hitters back in the lineup.
“It doesn’t feel good to step in Nelson Cruz’s spot,” he said. “I don’t want to step in his spot. I want him to be in his spot. It feels good to get the win for the day, but you have to hope he’s back as soon as possible.”
Taijuan Walker (3-6) allowed one run in six innings and beat the Indians for the second time in two weeks.
Cleveland lost its third straight and fell to 11-18 at home.
The Mariners scored more than three runs for the first time since May 26, a span of a club-record 13 games. Manager Lloyd McClendon said before the series opener he thought the offense was close to turning things around, but admitted getting four runs on one swing was nice to see.
“Obviously, it made me relax a little bit,” he said.
Bauer created his own trouble by walking the bases loaded in the third. Mike Zunino, batting .166, drew a leadoff walk before Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano walked with two away.
Pitching coach Mickey Callaway visited the mound, but Seager drove a 1-1 pitch to right-center.
“With the bases loaded he has to come at you a little bit more,” said Seager, who is batting .433 (26 for 60) in 15 career games at Progressive Field. “You try to be aggressive. It was a pitch I could handle.”
Indians manager Terry Francona wasn’t pleased with the inning and said, “The walks obviously hurt, especially when you load the bases.”
Bauer walked Seth Smith before retiring Mark Trumbo to finally end the 38-pitch inning.
Logan Morrison extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games with a two-run double in the Mariners’ fourth.
Walker, who struck out six, pitched eight shutout innings against the Indians on May 29 at Safeco Field.
Bauer gave up six runs, walked five and struck out five in 3 2-3 innings.
RHP Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, his first appearance since Friday when he was taken out of the closer’s role. He gave up a single and double to start the inning, but retired the next three hitters, allowing one run.
“He was a little better,” McClendon said. “I thought he had better finish on the fastball.”
Rodney, who led the league with 45 saves last season, will return to the closer’s role at some point. Rookie Carson Smith recorded saves Saturday and Tuesday.
Mariners: Cruz plans to play in the series finale Thursday. It’s likely he’ll be the designated hitter. He left Tuesday’s game when his back tightened up.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin (shoulder surgery) threw a bullpen session. He could begin a rehab assignment by the end of the month.
Mariners: LHP J.A. Happ, who seeks to extend his nine-start unbeaten streak, is 2-0 in four career appearances against Cleveland. He allowed two runs in five innings in a no-decision on May 31 at Safeco Field.
Indians: RHP Shaun Marcum defeated Seattle on May 30 at Safeco Field, allowing two runs in 5 1-3 innings. He lost for the first time with the Indians on June 5 against Baltimore.
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