Whoa, Nellie! Cruz's 2B lifts M's over Halos

Whoa, Nellie! Cruz's 2B lifts M's over Halos

ANAHEIM -- Lloyd McClendon has said if the Mariners are going to rebound this season, they need their stars to lead the way. And Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz helped pave the path to a 3-1 win Friday over the Angels that got Seattle off on the right foot at the start of a nine-game road swing.

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Cano laced a home run in the eighth inning to provide a key insurance run and also turned an impressive relay throw to nail Erick Aybar at third base in a critical play in the fourth to help young right-hander Taijuan Walker out of a jam.

Cano's solo homer

Cruz went 2-for-4 with an run-scoring double, increasing his team RBI lead to 45. Cruz's laser shot down the right-field line scored Austin Jackson from first base to give Seattle a 2-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 19th go-ahead RBI of the season, tops in the American League.

"This was a great win," said Cano. "This is a team in our division, a team we have to beat if we want to stay in the race. This was a big win tonight."

Relay nabs Aybar at third

Shortstop Brad Miller chipped in with a season-high three hits, including a pair of doubles, as Seattle did enough to support Walker's outstanding start.

"I know there's been a lot written about my offense and lack of offense," McClendon said. "Some nights you're not going to score a lot, but I thought our guys gave great at-bats tonight. Miller was outstanding, Robbie had a big hit, [Mike] Zunino executed a two-strike bunt. There were a lot of good things."

Among the good things was Cano's home run, projected by Statcast™ to land 434 feet away. After getting off to a slow start, he's hit .308 with five runs, five RBIs and two homers over his last 10 games.

"I was looking for something middle in and over the plate," Cano said of his homer off Fernando Salas. "That at-bat before, he caught me one low and one high. I didn't want to be arguing with the umpire, so if he got something over the plate I was going to swing. And I got a good swing there."

He also made a great throw with his lightning-quick relay from right fielder Mark Trumbo to third baseman Kyle Seager to nail Aybar, which saved Walker at least one run.

"I know the Angels, they've always been a team that is aggressive on the bases," Cano said. "I heard the fans getting loud, so I knew he was running. … That was as quick as I can be."

"Outstanding," said McClendon. "Quick, accurate and a strong arm. That was pretty good."

As for the home run?

"I would say he got all of that one," McClendon said with a smile.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.