LOS ANGELES -- Nelson Cruz, last year's Major League home run leader while with the Orioles, has picked up where he left off for his new Mariners club, as the big slugger went deep in his first two at-bats in Monday night's 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Dodgers and now has four homers in his past three games.
"He's finding his groove," said Seattle skipper Lloyd McClendon after the Interleague series opener. "He's swinging at strikes, he's getting pitches to drive and he's taking care of them. I think early on he was probably trying to do a little too much, but he's settled in and he's comfortable now."
Cruz drove an opposite-field shot down the right-field line off Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy for the 200th home run of his career, giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead after Robinson Cano's two-out single in the first inning. He then followed with a solo shot to right-center in the fourth, giving him four home runs in an eight-at-bat stretch dating back to Saturday.
"I think today was a good sign, going the other way," Cruz said. "That's something that normally when I'm doing that, I'm seeing the ball pretty good."
The three-game home run streak is the second longest of Cruz's 11-year Major League career. He homered in four straight games from April 1-4, 2011, for the Rangers. The multi-homer game was the 14th of his career. He's never hit more than two in a game.
Cruz was batting just .111 (2-for-18) to start his Mariners tenure when he hit a three-run blast in the eighth inning of Saturday's 5-4 victory over the A's. He then unleashed a solo blast in the top of the 10th on Sunday to lift Seattle to an 8-7 win and followed that with home runs in his first two at-bats Monday at Dodger Stadium.
His 2-for-4 night lifted his average to .250 through seven games and he's leading the team with seven RBIs, but Monday's early power show went for naught when the Dodgers came back to win in 10 innings.
"It was a tough game," Cruz said. "We played the last three games in extra innings and this time we didn't come out on top. That's baseball. We just had to shake their hands and we'll come back tomorrow and try to win the next one."
The 34-year-old hit 40 home runs last season before signing a four-year, $57 million free-agent deal with the Mariners.