Mariners make most of limited offense
Held hitless into sixth, Seattle overcomes Lester late
SEATTLE -- As Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said multiple times during his team's mistake-prone stretch of recent games, winning is an instant cure.
And the Mariners were in need of healing on Saturday.
The Band-Aid came in the form of a 5-1 win against the Red Sox before 43,694 at Safeco Field, with the Mariners springing to life after Michael Saunders' two-run homer in the sixth, the team's first hit off Boston's Jon Lester.
A strong start from David Pauley and 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief finished off the club's third win in 11 games, a welcome high note following Friday's loss and dugout scuffle, which provoked a team meeting before Game 3 of the series.
"We all had a moment of silence for the old Mariners," Saunders said, speaking figuratively. "We're turning a page today and moving forward. It's a new season starting today. What happened an hour ago, two hours ago, yesterday or a week [ago], we can't control that anymore. We're just trying to move forward."
The old Mariners: plagued by shortcomings in the areas of timely hitting, baserunning, and most recently, focus and team chemistry. There's not nearly enough proof to believe the new Mariners have emerged, but Saturday held a host of positive signs.
Lester extended that moment of silence through the first 5 1/3 innings, when he retired all 16 batters and struck out a whopping 10. From the second through the fourth, he fanned seven of nine.
With one out in the sixth, Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson hit a routine fly ball to center field -- the first ball hit in the air or out of the infield -- for what should have been an easy out, but Eric Patterson dropped it and Wilson reached second on the error.
The next batter, Saunders, launched a 2-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers for a two-run homer to erase the no-hitter and the lead.
"I hung a curveball to a guy that I shouldn't have," Lester said. "He made a good swing, hit it out."
That ended the second no-hitter scare of the series for the Mariners, who were no-hit for 7 2/3 innings by Boston's John Lackey on Thursday.
"We were all talking about it, trying to jinx it, telling all the guys he had a perfect game going," Saunders said. "I think it did take a little pressure off our pitchers, who had been doing a fantastic job of late. It wasn't a different story tonight with Pauley, then the way Wak used the 'pen, and they came in and shoved it.
"I think just giving them the lead and the runs, with the way we were pitching, I think we were pretty confident we had the win."
Lester's performance overshadowed a solid night from several Seattle pitchers. Pauley gave up just one run -- a homer by David Ortiz -- in 5 2/3 innings, striking out five and allowing five hits, and relievers Chris Seddon and Garrett Olson earned their first career win and save, respectively.
After Saunders' home run, Lester went untouched until the eighth, when he was bounced from the game and the Mariners scored three runs on three hits, the kind of offensive efficiency rarely seen this season.
Milton Bradley led off with a triple -- collapsing on third base after racing around second. He said he decided to stretch it when the ball kicked off the base of the wall in right-center field, and he half-stumbled his way to third before making a feet-first slide.
"I was glad to be safe on the base and not make a mistake," Bradley said. "We've had some bad baserunning lately and I've been the main culprit. I was glad to get there and not make the first out."
He scored on a squeeze bunt by Jack Wilson, who, with Bradley racing for the plate, got his bat on an eye-level, outside, 93 mph fastball to bring in the run.
A single, walk and RBI double from Chone Figgins made the score 4-1, and Jose Lopez brought in another when he was hit by a pitch.
Figgins also made an impressive backhanded stop and throw from the outfield grass to get Kevin Cash at first base in the third, and coupled with his double, it was a positive night for a player at the center of controversy since his disagreement with Wakamatsu led to a fight in the dugout.
Figgins said after the game he was still not ready to talk about Friday night's events, but Wakamatsu was happy to see his team come together.
"Absolutely," Wakamatsu said. "To be able to have that many people involved in the wins and do so many things, I think it's healthy for our club."
Mike McCall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.