Seager continues torrid pace for surging Mariners

Chavez homers for first time in 266 plate appearances to back Young

Seager continues torrid pace for surging Mariners

SEATTLE -- Even before their first postgame fireworks show of the season, the Mariners provided some pyrotechnics for the Safeco Field fans Friday in a 3-2 victory over the Indians.

And surprisingly, the big boom for the home club came from 170-pound veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, who popped his first home run of the season over the right-field wall in the seventh inning for what wound up as the winning run for a Seattle team that suddenly is making significant noise in the American League West.

After staying out in the dugout to watch the 15-minute firework show, Chavez emerged back in the winning clubhouse still smiling about his first home run in 266 plate appearances, dating back 13 months to last season in San Diego.

"When I hit it, I thought it would hit the fence," Chavez said. "It was a line drive, so I was running hard to make it to second. But before I got to first base I saw the ball go into the stands and I said, "OK, I'll take it.'"

So will the Mariners, who have won nine of their last 12 games, putting their record at 43-37 as they approach Saturday's halfway point in the season. That's an eight-win improvement over their 80-game record last year and puts Seattle at least in the early Wild Card playoff conversation with the fifth-best record in the AL.

Veteran right-hander Chris Young held the Indians to one run in five innings and then turned things over to Seattle's rock-solid bullpen to pick up his seventh win of the season.

The Indians scored a run off closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth, just the second run Seattle's relievers have allowed in the past 24 innings, before Rodney slammed the door for his 22nd save.

"That's a good-hitting club," Young said. "I wasn't as sharp as I'd like to be and I probably got a little lucky tonight. They hit some balls hard right at guys. Then the bullpen came in and did a phenomenal job and the guys picked me up. It was a great team effort, a great win and good for us to bounce back."

With Young's pitch count climbing to 91 after just five frames, manager Lloyd McClendon chose to go to his 'pen early and preserve a 35-year-old who hasn't pitched a full season since 2007 due to a series of shoulder issues.

Joe Beimel, Danny Farquhar, Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush held the Indians to a single hit over three frames before Rodney finished things off in the ninth.

"We did a decent job of getting the pitch count up and getting him out of there," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "He's a big, tall kid and when he does throw it down, there's a ton of deception with it. Normally, when you get to a bullpen before you want a team to, [it's good]. That's a pretty good bullpen."

Furbush gave up a two-out double to Jason Kipnis to put runners on second and third in the eighth, but then got Lonnie Chisenhall to ground out to second to quell what could have been a key turning point.

"We're just sticking together," Furbush said. "Everyone is doing their part and we know we have to come in and get the job done. It's going really great right now."

Seattle's bullpen has a 1.66 ERA over its last 40 games and leads the American League for the season with a 2.64 ERA.

Young gave up four hits -- including three doubles -- but just one run in five frames as he improved to 7-4 on the season with a 3.15 ERA. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out four. All three doubles came with one out -- in the second, fourth and fifth innings -- but Young stranded all three of those runners.

The seven wins equals Young's most in a season since 2008 when he went 7-6 for the Padres, before running into shoulder problems that limited his production for the next five seasons until undergoing treatment for a nerve issue called thoracic outlet syndrome last year.

Young has been particularly effective at Safeco Field, where he's allowed four hits or less in seven of his eight starts this season and held opponents to a .178 batting average. The franchise record for lowest home batting average for a season is .176 by Randy Johnson in 1997.

Third baseman Kyle Seager continued his torrid hitting by going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI on a base hit in the first that gave Seattle a 1-0 lead.

Seager has an eight-game hitting streak at home during which he's hit .613 (19-for-31) with 16 RBIs. He's now cranked out 38 RBIs in 39 games at Safeco this season, giving him 55 for the year. But the 25-year-old third baseman has been hot everywhere of late, batting .420 (21-for-50) in 13 games since June 14 to hike his season average to .274.

Right fielder Michael Saunders, activated off the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, cracked a double in his first at-bat and finished 2-for-4. Saunders scored Seattle's second run in the fourth on an RBI single by Brad Miller.

Cleveland's only tally against Young came in the third after he loaded the bases with a walk, single and hit batter, but limited the damage to one run on a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley that tied the score at 1. The Indians have lost five of their last six to drop to 38-41.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.