Thames lifts Mariners to eighth straight win

Thames lifts Mariners to eighth straight win

Thames lifts Mariners to eighth straight win
SEATTLE -- Eric Thames is no stranger to heroics. Just over a week ago he brushed aside an 0-for-3 day at the plate with three strikeouts to hit a walk-off single.

That single, back on Aug. 14, started a winning streak for the Mariners. On Wednesday, Thames walked to the plate in the eighth inning with another 0-for-3 and three-strikeout performance to his name. And again, Thames came through in the clutch, extending the winning streak he helped start.

Thames hit a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning Wednesday to propel the Mariners to a 3-1 win over the Indians at Safeco Field. It was the Mariners' eighth straight victory and their 15th win in their past 16 home games.

Heading into the eighth of a 1-1 game, the Mariners started their rally with a hard-hit ball into the right-center field gap off the bat of Kyle Seager. The throw beat Seager to second, but a nifty slide allowed him a double. After Indians manager Manny Acta was tossed for arguing the call, John Jaso was put on first with an intentional walk.

"He was thinking double out of the box," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He busted his tail out of the box. When you get your doubles, it's not when you round first, it's those first two or three steps right out of the box. That's when you get it done. Just great hustle on Kyle's part."

Jesus Montero followed with a strikeout, but Thames came through by ripping a double down the right-field line to score Seager and Jaso.

"After those three at-bats, I was on fire. I was pretty hot," said Thames of his earlier struggles. "It's just, you get lost in the minute. It was a big situation, and like I said, I was trying to have my approach, just get the head on the fastball. I did and the ball landed where nobody was standing. We scored and we won."

The Mariners took an early 1-0 lead when Michael Saunders hit a solo shot in the first, his 14th homer of the season and fourth in as many games.

Meanwhile, Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma kept the Indians in check with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, but played with fire for most of the day as he allowed plenty of baserunners. The 31-year-old rookie from Japan induced three double plays in the first four innings, though, and did not allow a runner to advance past second base until the sixth.

"Offensively, we had plenty of opportunities to take the lead," Acta said. "It seems like every one of them is just trying to do too much. We couldn't make adjustments the whole day. Their guy was just flipping that split-finger away, away the whole day."

But holding runners on base inning after inning finally caught up to Iwakuma in the sixth. A one-out single by Carlos Santana followed a walk to Shin-Soo Choo. Iwakuma struck out Michael Brantley for the second out, but both runners advanced on a double steal.

Iwakuma was lifted for reliever Oliver Perez for a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Casey Kotchman. Perez was able to get Kotchman to dribble a ball down the third-base line, but it was hit so softly that Seager had no play, and the infield single tied the game.

After walking the bases loaded, Perez escaped further damage by getting Jack Hannahan to whiff on a full-count pitch out of the zone.

It was Iwakuma's second straight start allowing just one run. In his last three starts, Iwakuma is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA.

"His experience has really shown up, as far as I'm concerned, over here," Wedge said. "He's technically a rookie, but he doesn't pitch like that because of all the time he spent starting in Japan."

The Mariners take their eight-game winning streak on the road for a two-series, seven-game trip. After their last homestand, they embarked with a seven-game winning streak intact, but returned to Safeco with a 3-6 record on the road trip. But after an unprecedented stretch at home, the Mariners aren't thinking about the past.

"We're all having fun, I think that's a big part of it," Seager said. "We're loose, we have a real fun locker room, we're enjoying each other and I think that's a big part of this. When you enjoy each other, you're going to play better. When you're goofing around, you're going to be a little bit looser. Any time you're not stressing and not tight, I think you're going to play the best you can. It's been a lot of fun lately."

Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.