O'Malley comes through in clutch vs. Neshek

O'Malley comes through in clutch vs. Neshek

SEATTLE -- Shawn O'Malley hadn't logged a hit in more than two weeks when he stepped to the plate to face Pat Neshek in the eighth inning of Seattle's 6-4 win over Houston on Tuesday night.

Over the Mariners' last nine games, the scrappy September callup saw his batting average drop from .417 to .286, and his on-base percentage slip from .543 to .435.

But even without recent success, he was right for the moment in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, in which he knocked a two-run single to left-center to score the go-ahead runs for a Mariners club that hadn't won since last Tuesday.

"He got a pitch that he could get out there in the outfield," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "Did a real nice job."

O'Malley, a switch-hitter, was the first left-handed hitter to face Neshek, who traditionally matches up well with right-handed hitters. Singles by Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo followed by a walk to Franklin Gutierrez loaded the bases for O'Malley, and the 27-year-old outfielder waited for his pitch.

"I knew he had some good sink to his fastball, so I was just waiting to see if I could get a ball up in the zone that I could put back up the middle," O'Malley said of Neshek.

After taking three straight sinkers and fouling off a slider, O'Malley got an elevated 84-mph slider and knocked it into left-center, scoring both Smith and Trumbo to give O'Malley his first multi-RBI game since his Mariners debut Sept. 2.

That game in Houston on Sept. 2 was significant not only because it was O'Malley's first start in a Mariners uniform or because before Tuesday it was Seattle's last win against the Astros, but also because it was O'Malley's best game, one in which he went 3-for-5 and knocked an RBI single in an eighth-inning at-bat against Neshek.

Sound familiar?

"I think I got a jam shot to right [in Houston]," O'Malley said. "I was familiar with some of the stuff he had, and fortunately it turned out good."

So good, in fact, that it earned a standing ovation from the Safeco Field crowd as O'Malley made his way to the dugout after the final out of the inning.

"I didn't notice that. I think I was just in the zone, locked in," O'Malley said. "I wasn't really paying attention, but thanks, that's great. I'm glad they loved it. I mean, I sure did, so yeah, it was really, really nice."

Fans of the hit might also include O'Malley's former team, the Angels, whose win combined with Houston's loss put them a half-game ahead of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"From what I heard, I helped them out," O'Malley said with a smile. "We want to win games until the very end, so that's what we're going to try to do."

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.