Mariners Cruz to 8th straight win

Mariners Cruz to 8th straight win

ANAHEIM -- Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz provided the offense with solo home runs and Hisashi Iwakuma picked up his career-high 16th win as the surging Mariners topped the Angels, 2-1, for their eighth straight win Wednesday night at Angel Stadium.

The Mariners moved within 1 1/2 games of the American League's second Wild Card spot at 78-68 as they equaled their longest winning streak since July 2013. Seattle now heads home after sweeping both the A's and Angels, with the 6-0 road trip just the third perfect trip of six games or more in club history.

"When we got on the plane, we just kept thinking, 'Win series, win series,'" said first-year manager Scott Servais. "And you win the first couple and, hey, why not sweep it? That's been the mentality of this club. Everybody is doing their part. It's the starters, the bullpen, the guys coming off the bench just doing their job."

Pulse of the Postseason

Iwakuma allowed one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings as he improved to 16-11 with a 3.87 ERA. Relievers Tom Wilhelmsen, Steve Cishek and Edwin Diaz closed out the win by retiring the last seven batters in order, with the 22-year-old Diaz collecting his 16th save in 17 chances.

Kuma's career-high 16th win keeps Mariners rolling

Iwakuma's terrific start

Angels starter Jhoulys Chacin pitched well as a late replacement for sore-armed Tyler Skaggs, throwing six innings of one-run ball on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Chacin turned a 1-1 tie over to his bullpen, but reliever Jose Valdez immediately gave up a home run to Cruz leading off the seventh.

For Chacin, it was his first start since Aug. 21 and his longest appearance since pitching a complete game against the Tigers on May 30.

"He threw a good game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he commanded his sinker, changed speeds very well, and for a guy who hadn't started in a while, that's six strong innings against a team that's been hitting the ball well."

The Angels have lost seven of their last eight, falling to 63-82. Seattle won the season series, 11-8.

Seager snaps skid: Seattle's third baseman has been one of the few Mariners not on a hot streak in September, but he snapped an 0-for-14 slump by jumping on a first-pitch fastball from Chacin and depositing it in the right-field seats in the fifth. Seager's blast, projected by Statcast™ to travel 419 feet, bumped up his career high to 29 for the season and tied the game at 1. Seager leads the Mariners with 93 RBIs, three shy of his career best.

"I was looking for a pitch to drive," Seager said. "Kuma was throwing really well, but we hadn't had too many sparks offensively, so I was just trying to be aggressive and make something happen and thankfully it worked out."

Seager's solo smash

Trout takes hit away: Mike Trout robbed Seth Smith of a hit with a diving catch in left-center for the second out in the sixth inning, preventing a baserunner from reaching scoring position in a 1-1 game. It was the second time in as many nights that the Angels' star center fielder took a hit away from the Mariners.

"Mike was shading that way, but it's a big play at the time, for sure," Scioscia said. "He's playing hard." More >

Statcast: Trout lays out

Angels buster: Cruz's go-ahead homer in the seventh was his 10th home run of the season against the Halos in 19 games. That's the second-most homers against one team by any player in the Majors this year (the Twins' Brian Dozier has 11 against the Royals), and it set a Mariners record for most against one opponent in a season (Jay Buhner had nine against the Twins in 1995). Cruz jumped on a 1-0 slider from Valdez and lined a shot down the left-field line for his 37th homer.

"It's baseball, you know?" Cruz said of his success against the Angels. "You go against other teams and don't get any homers. That's just the way baseball goes. You can't explain it."

Cruz's 112-mph laser home run

Graterol makes most of opportunity: Angels catcher Juan Graterol went 2-for-2 and scored the club's only run in his first Major League start. It's been a long road for Graterol, who toiled for 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues before making his big league debut on Sept. 2.

"It's unbelievable," Graterol said. "I didn't expect that." More >

Graterol scores on wild pitch

"This environment is really special right now. It starts with Skip. He's built this culture, and this is a lot of fun and there's a lot of belief here. We're not stressing. That's the big thing. That's something that's been pretty refreshing. It's been a fun, clean, enjoyable environment. When you're having fun, you're going to play better. And when you play better, you win. So it works out." -- Seager, on the team's eight-game streak

When Juan Graterol scored a run on a wild pitch and gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the third inning, it ended a string of 53 straight innings that the Mariners either led or were tied over their past seven games.

The Angels were successful on a challenge in the top of the third inning that prevented a Mariners run. With a runner on third and two outs, Mariners leadoff man Norichika Aoki hit a grounder to the right side and was ruled safe on a close play at first base. After a review of just over two minutes, the ruling on the field was overturned and the game remained scoreless.


Aoki called out after review

Mariners: After an off-day on Thursday, Felix Hernandez (11-5, 3.58 ERA) opens a crucial six-game homestand for Seattle on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT against the Astros' Collin McHugh (10-10, 4.86). Hernandez is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts against Houston at Safeco Field. This is his first time facing the Astros this season.

Angels: Daniel Wright makes his second start for the Angels on Thursday at Angel Stadium when they open a four-game series against the contending Blue Jays. Wright went five innings against the Rangers in his club debut his last time out. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for based in Los Angeles. He covered the Angels on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.