Mariners blast off, hang on for sweep in Denver

Mariners blast off, hang on for sweep in Denver

Mariners blast off, hang on for sweep in Denver
DENVER -- After winning by seven runs Saturday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge cautioned that "it's never over till it's over" at Coors Field. The Rockies proved him right Sunday afternoon, making a charge in the ninth to put the tying run on base with two out and Todd Helton at the plate.

After retiring the first batter in the ninth on a comebacker to the mound, closer Brandon League yielded a pinch-hit home run into the right-field deck by Dexter Fowler, followed by three consecutive singles to Eric Young, pinch-hitter Jason Giambi and Carlos Gonzalez. After an encouraging visit to the mound from Wedge, the drawn-in infield got a fielder's choice grounder from Troy Tulowitzki to bring up Helton in a first-and-third situation.

League challenged Helton with fastballs at 97 mph, then struck out Helton on a full count with a heater down the middle to secure the 6-4 win and give the Mariners a sweep of the series.

"If they don't put the ball in play with a ground ball early in the count, I try to finish them with my split," League said. "He wasn't biting on the split, and I wasn't going to throw another split 3-2 with the possibility of putting another baserunner on. So I challenged him with my fastball, and I came out on top."

The Rockies are not at their best, having won only three times in their past 16 games, but the Mariners were firing on all cylinders Sunday, getting a strong starting effort from Blake Beavan and plenty of power on offense. They came into Colorado with a 4-7 record in the Mile High City, having not won a road game with the Rockies in 11 years.

"It's hard to sweep in general, much less on the road," Wedge said. "You know you're going to have to earn every bit of it, and that's what we had to do today. In the end, 'Leaguer' got it done. I really liked his fastball and his stuff overall. They did a nice job against him, but it's a bottom line situation there, and he got it done."

The Mariners came to Colorado reeling from a 1-6 stretch on the road, but they turned the tables and swept the NL team with the best Interleague winning percentage over the past seven years, boosting their confidence after the high-altitude hat trick.

"These guys are never going to lay down," Wedge said. "These guys offensively are heading in the right direction. We still need to be pushing with that. We've got some guys in here that can do some damage once they get themselves going."

Seattle jumped on Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning, ensuring they would never trail the Rockies all weekend. Dustin Ackley led off with a double to center and later scored on the front end of a double steal following Kyle Seager's two-out walk. Justin Smoak singled Seager home to make it 2-0 Mariners.

The Rockies cut that lead in half when Gonzalez launched a towering home run to center with two outs in the bottom of the first, but Beaven recovered quickly, scattering six more hits over the next four-plus innings. The Rockies scored again in the fourth when Michael Cuddyer notched his second of three hits on the day with a double to left and Jordan Pacheco plated him with a single.

"Beavan battled," Wedge said. "He didn't have his best stuff, he definitely didn't have his fastball command, but he didn't give in to it, still mixed his pitches and got us into the sixth inning."

Wedge pulled Beavan after Cuddyer doubled again to lead off the sixth, turning to Shawn Kelley, who retired three in a row, striking out the last two to strand Cuddyer at second.

"Obviously, I wanted to keep throwing, but [Wedge has] got a better look at who's coming up and how many times they've been through the order," Beavan said. "Kelley coming in there and shutting those guys down that inning was big momentum for us."

Beavan threw 82 pitches, 52 for strikes, over five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out a career-high seven.

The Mariners added four more after their opening salvo, with all the runs coming on the long ball. Ichiro Suzuki legged out a one-out double to the right-center gap in the third, and with two outs, Montero went deep with a no-doubter to left field.

"The one to Montero, I was trying to go inside," Guthrie said of the home-run pitch. "It was probably belt high, so it gave him a better shot to bring the hands in. That was the one I executed the best. That's where I was trying to throw it. He did a good job and hammered it."

Smoak capped his .351 road trip (13-for-37) by giving the Mariners their first back-to-back homers of the season when he followed Montero with a solo shot that cleared the right-field scoreboard.

"The scouting report was, 'wait for a fastball over the plate,'" Smoak said of his approach to Guthrie. "Jesus did a good job squaring one up, and two pitches later I got a fastball over the plate and put a good swing on it."

Mike Carp drove another round-tripper off the facing of the second deck in right field with one out and nobody on in the sixth. It was the only one of the Mariners six runs to come with less than two outs.

The sweep improved the Mariners' record to 4-6 on the trip, salvaging what had been a dismal week-and-a-half away from home. With the Angels falling to the Padres on Sunday, the Angels took Seattle's spot in the AL West cellar and Colorado fell to the basement in the NL West.

"It's a good way to end the road trip, for sure," Seager said. "It's been a long trip, and we had some ups and downs along the way, but it's definitely a good thing to end on a high note."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.