Mariners' big bats hold off White Sox

Mariners' big bats hold off White Sox

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz hit a two-RBI double in the third and Robinson Cano launched a two-run homer in the fifth as the Mariners hung on avoid a White Sox sweep, 8-6, Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

Mariners starter Taijuan Walker held the White Sox to just one run over his first five innings, but exited after allowing four hits in what became a five-run sixth inning for Chicago. Walker earned his first win since July 31, but snapped a streak of five straight quality starts, allowing five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

"I felt good. I felt really good, actually, until that hiccup in the sixth," said Walker, who is 7-1 with a 4.01 ERA over his last 14 starts. "After we got that big lead, I started throwing too much soft stuff instead of keeping the same thing we'd been doing the whole game. I got a little comfortable with the lead and was leaving stuff right down the middle and they're not going to miss pitches like that."

Chicago's John Danks, meanwhile, allowed a season-high seven earned runs on eight hits over five innings to earn his third loss in his last four starts. The 30-year-old lefty remains winless on the road since May 31.

"I was behind in the count a lot, deep in counts, trying to work my way back into it and they just got the better of me," Danks said. "Got in a lot of hitter's counts and had to try and maneuver my way through and wasn't very successful."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cruz still crankin': Cruz extended his on-base streak to a career-best 33 games with his two-run double that highlighted Seattle's four-run third. Jesus Sucre and Franklin Gutierrez also had RBI singles in that frame. Cruz's streak is the third longest in the Majors behind only the 44 of Matt Holliday and 41 of Troy Tulowitzki. Cruz is batting .358 (49-for-137) with nine doubles and 16 home runs during that span and continues leading the Majors with 37 homers while hitting .320 with 78 RBIs.

Cruz's two-run double

Abreu annihilates one: Abreu continued his second-half hot streak Sunday, launching a 1-0 curveball from Walker 420 feet to center for his 23rd home run of the season with one out in the sixth inning. The blast, which cut the deficit to 7-4, was Abreu's ninth since the All-Star break. The 28-year-old first baseman went 2-for-4 on the afternoon, his other hit coming on a single to center in the first.

Abreu's two-run homer

LaRoche's laser: Adam LaRoche has just two multi-hit games in the month of August, but both have come in his last three games. LaRoche welcomed Mariners reliever Logan Kensing, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma Sunday, with a two-run blast to right to cap off a five-run sixth inning for the White Sox. 12th of the season as well as his fourth extra-base hit in his last three games. More >

"Feeling better, no question," LaRoche said. "Trying to be a little more aggressive. Last at-bat was a little frustrating. It feels a lot better when you win, but it's kind of nice to get the bat going."

LaRoche's two-run shot

Cano goes deep again: Cano continued his second-half surge with a two-run homer in the fifth that gave the Mariners a 7-1 lead. Cano equaled last year's homer output with his 14th of the season on a first-pitch fastball from Danks. Cano was batting .238 at on the last day of June, but in the 44 games since he's hit .331 (60-for-181) with 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs to hike that average to .274.

Cano's two-run homer

"Like I told the guys in the dugout, it's good to end it with a happy Sunday," Cano said. "It was good to see the way we got the job done with bunting and little things, like hitting with runners in scoring position and the sac fly. It's the little things that help you win."

QUOTABLE
"I swear he looks into your soul when you're standing on the mound. I was actually thinking I had a better beard than he did at the time, but he won today and hopefully I'll get to face him again." -- Kensing after giving up the homer to LaRoche, the first hitter he'd faced in a Major League game since 2013, before retiring the next three batters he faced in his Mariners debut

WHAT'S NEXT
White Sox: Jeff Samardzija (8-9, 4.64 ERA) takes the mound Monday as the White Sox open up a three-game series against the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. CT at U.S. Cellular Field. Samardzija has lost each of his last four starts, but pitched well in Anaheim on Wednesday, holding the Angels to one run over seven innings. His last win came against the Red Sox on July 28, when he allowed four runs over eight innings.

Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma (5-2, 3.74) makes his first start at Safeco Field since his no-hitter on Aug. 12 against the Orioles. The 34-year-old right-hander is 3-0, 1.71 over his last four starts. Iwakuma hasn't faced the A's this year, but is 4-4, 3.94 in eight career meetings.

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Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.