SEATTLE -- Catcher Chris Iannetta blasted a walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the 11th inning against Rays reliever Steve Geltz as the Mariners swept Tampa Bay with a 6-5 victory on Wednesday at sunny Safeco Field.
"Ideally you don't want to go to the deepest part of center field here, but I'll take it," Iannetta said after launching the fifth walk-off homer of his career and first since 2014 with the Angels. "If it hadn't gone out, I'd have been really disappointed."
Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier homered off Nick Vincent with one out in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 5. Vincent, who has two career saves, was pitching because Mariners closer Steve Cishek had been used heavily over the previous four days and Joaquin Benoit and Tony Zych are on the disabled list.
Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker breezed through five innings on just two hits with eight strikeouts, but he gave up a grand slam to Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson in the sixth that tied the game at 4. Walker had walked only three batters in his first 37 innings of the season, but issued three that inning along with three hits and was pulled after 5 2/3 innings.
Free bases also proved costly to Rays right-hander Chris Archer, who walked three batters in a three-run first. Archer wound up going five-plus frames with five hits, four runs, four walks and five strikeouts. Nelson Cruz cranked a solo homer off Archer in the third and had a sacrifice fly in the seventh to give Seattle a 5-4 lead.
The sweep was Seattle's first in a three-game series against the Rays in Seattle since 2006 and improved the Mariners to 21-13, still 1 1/2 games up on the Rangers in the American League West after winning 19 of their last 26 games. The Rays had won four straight coming into the series.
"We came in, [the Mariners are] clicking on all cylinders," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Right now they're getting the big hits. They're getting the big innings pitched. They've overcome a little adversity, too. They're a good ballclub right now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Walk this way: Archer has been tough on the Mariners in the past, having not allowed an earned run in his previous three starts against them, but Kyle Seager drew a bases-loaded walk in the first and Seth Smith followed with a two-run single. Archer got himself in trouble with a leadoff base hit by Norichika Aoki, followed by three walks, including Seager's run-scoring pass. Seager is 0-for-15 in his career against Archer after popping out twice in later at-bats.
"The best pitchers in this league, you got to get them early," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "I thought our at-bats were outstanding. We were prepared and ready to play. We had a great approach early of just creating opportunities. You saw once he got going a little bit, he can dial it up with the best of them."
Dickerson's slam: Dickerson entered Wednesday in the midst of a 2-for-38 stretch that saw his average tumble from .259 to .183. Still, the hard-swinging slugger is always a home run threat. Trailing, 4-0, in the sixth, the Rays managed to load the bases with one out for Dickerson, who wasted no time, taking a hack at a 77-mph curveball. Once the ball landed a projected 409 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, Dickerson had his eighth home run of the season and first career grand slam. Dickerson's last four hits have been home runs. More >
Up-and-down relief: The Rays had just tied the game in the sixth when the Mariners loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half of the inning. Cash called on former Mariner Erasmo Ramirez, who promptly struck out Ketel Marte to escape the jam. Unfortunately for the Rays, the Mariners managed to push across the go-ahead run against Ramirez in the seventh when Robinson Cano doubled and scored on Cruz's sacrifice fly to put the Mariners up, 5-4.
Cano still a go: Cano has trouble with Archer, and he went 0-for-3 to extend his hitless streak against the right-hander to 16 at-bats. But once Archer was out, Cano went to work with a leadoff double in the seventh off Ramirez and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Cruz to give Seattle a 5-4 lead. Cano has an 11-game hitting streak during which he's gone 22-for-49 (.449) with four homers and nine RBIs to raise his average from .226 to .303.
"Getting sunburned in May at Safeco Field and winning a game in extra innings, that's a pretty good day." -- Servais
"Home runs are encouraging when we're hitting them. They're not encouraging when we're giving them up." -- Cash, when asked whether the Rays scoring only via home runs is a problem
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mariners are 16-1 when scoring four or more runs in a game.
Mike Montgomery hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch in the seventh. The Rays' outfielder has now been hit by a pitch 11 times this season, which leads the Major Leagues in that category. He has more HBP than 16 teams.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.10 ERA) will start for the Rays as they open a three-game series against the A's on Friday with a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Following the three-game weekend series, they'll go back on the road for an eight-game trip against Toronto, Detroit and Miami. The Rays are in the midst of a 17-game stretch in which 14 of the games are on the road.
Mariners: After an off-day Thursday, the homestand resumes with a three-game series against the Angels starting Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT with Nathan Karns (3-1, 3.38 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander is coming off a season-high nine strikeout-performance when he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings during a 3-2 victory at Houston.