SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz's towering home run to center field in the eighth inning snapped a taut tie game and sparked a Mariners rally that gave them a 3-1 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday night at Safeco Field. Seattle swept Detroit in the three-game series and has won a season-high six consecutive games.
"A lot of things are starting to come together," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Whether it's our bullpen jibing -- the pieces are starting to come together there -- the offense, the timely hitting, just the belief in our team."
Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander, both former American League Cy Young Award winners, had engaged in a classic, old-school pitchers' duel, throwing 238 pitches between the two of them. Each lasted seven innings and gave up one run, with Hernandez striking out eight while throwing 117 pitches and Verlander punching out six while throwing 121.
The Mariners struck first, with Robinson Cano lacing an opposite-field solo homer over the left-field wall in the first inning, and the Tigers made it 1-1 in the fourth, when J.D. Martinez capitalized on a two-walk inning by Hernandez by singling home Ian Kinsler with two outs.
"In a game like this, you're facing a great lineup," Hernandez said. "You're facing a great pitcher. Your level, you've got to raise it up."
The mastery of the veteran starters left it up to the bullpens, and Detroit's faltered for the second consecutive night. Left-hander Justin Wilson, who gave up Kyle Seager's game-tying three-run shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's 15-inning marathon, left a 95-mph fastball up on a 1-1 count to Cruz with one out in the eighth for the go-ahead run. Seager added a one-out single, Mike Zunino worked a two-out walk, and Leonys Martin cashed in Seattle's third run with a flare single to left field.
Nick Vincent closed out the Tigers with a scoreless ninth inning for the save.
"You can't get down on yourself about guys that aren't out there for you. We've got to win with what we've got right now, and I think we're plenty good to do that. -- Verlander, on his team's injury woes
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Whoa, Nellie: One batter after Cano just missed a home run in the eighth, lofting a fly ball to the warning track against Wilson, Cruz took advantage of a similar pitch and crushed it over the fence to give the Mariners the 2-1 lead. According to Statcast™, Cruz's 28th homer of the season left the bat at 107 mph and traveled a distance of 422 feet at a launch angle of 25 degrees.
Cano homers early: Cano's first-inning homer was his 25th of 2016, making this the sixth season in which he's homered 25-plus times. Only three other second basemen have reached that mark in their careers: Jeff Kent, Dan Uggla and Ryne Sandberg.
Tigers tie it up: Detroit got on the board in the fourth inning by taking advantage of some wildness on the part of Hernandez. Kinsler worked a leadoff walk and stole second base, and after two subsequent outs, Victor Martinez walked, setting up J.D. Martinez's RBI single.
Easy as 1-2-3: Right-handed reliever Arquimedes Caminero made his third straight hitless appearance for the Mariners. He threw 13 pitches, 10 strikes, in the eighth inning to retire the side in order. He has retired all 12 batters he's faced since arriving in Seattle on Monday. The Mariners acquired him from Pittsburgh on Saturday for a player to be named.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Tigers challenged a caught-stealing call against Kinsler in the top of the fourth inning after second-base umpire Eric Cooper ruled that Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte had tagged him with a swipe of the glove as he was about to slide into the bag. The call was overturned after a review of three minutes and eight seconds, with Kinsler safe at second.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mariners' six-game winning streak is not just a season-high, it's also Seattle's longest since winning eight straight from July 12-23, 2013.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: The Tigers have an off-day on Thursday before beginning a three-game set against the Rangers on Friday night in Arlington. Right-hander Anibal Sanchez (6-11, 5.88 ERA) takes the mound for Detroit against Rangers ace Yu Darvish (2-3, 2.78 ERA) in the 8:05 p.m. ET series opener.
Mariners: The Mariners are off Thursday and will travel to Oakland for a weekend series against the A's. Rookie left-hander Ariel Miranda (1-0, 6.00 ERA) remains the scheduled starter for Seattle vs. A's rookie lefty Sean Manaea. Miranda pitched the 15th inning on Tuesday, giving up a run but picking up his first big league win.
Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle who covered the Mariners on Wednesday.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle who covered the Tigers on Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.