SEATTLE (AP) — Mitch Haniger swung for the fences with the count 3-1, but to no avail.
He eased up on 3-2 — and still hit a long home run to a most impressive spot at Safeco Field.
Haniger hit an impressive opposite-field homer leading off the 13th inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night to improve to 6-0 in extra innings.
Haniger’s drive went out to right-center field, capping a game that lasted 4 hours, 16 minutes. Haniger jumped into a crowd of teammates at home plate and was doused with a bucket of blue Gatorade.
“I was trying to crush the 3-1 (pitch),” Haniger said. “That’s kind of my at-bat, and 3-2 it kind of becomes the team at-bat and try to get on base and get something going.”
The home run was his 12th this season and his eighth game-winning RBI. He also drew three walks.
“I cannot believe he hit that ball out at that part of the ballpark,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s really hard to drive a ball the opposite way once it gets this late and the temperatures cool down. Mitch stays within himself. I don’t think he was thinking home run, but he nailed it right on the sweet spot.”
Roenis Elias (1-0), who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day, got the win with two scoreless innings.
Matt Andriese (1-3) was the last of seven Tampa Bay pitchers. He pitched a scoreless 12th inning before giving up Haniger’s game-ending shot.
“We fought hard to get back, which is great,” said Andriese on the Rays coming back from a 3-0 deficit. “Unfortunately we lost the game. It’s a tough one to lose that late in the game like that.”
Seattle closer Edwin Diaz gave up the tying run in the ninth, his third blown save this season in 22 opportunities. Matt Duffy singled home Joey Wendle after Wendle walked, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch.
“We came up short tonight,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But when you’re doing it off closers, and (Diaz) is really, really tough, it speaks volumes about the guys.”
The Mariners got a solid outing from starter Mike Leake, who gave up two runs in seven innings with a season-high eight strikeouts. Leake allowed six hits and no walks. He has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.
Seattle reliever Alex Colome, who was traded from the Rays to the Mariners on May 25, pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his first outing against his former team.
“Everybody is chipping in right now,” Servais said. “That’s what’s so fun about it. Our guys just kept hanging in there. They know we’ve come out of the right side (in extra innings) because they believe. And we had the right man at the plate at the end.”
Veteran reliever Sergio Romo made his fifth start for the Rays as part of their experiment to open games with the bullpen. Romo faced five batters in 1 1/3 innings before leaving after walking Haniger. Romo hasn’t pitched more than 1 1/3 innings in any of his starts while allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the third when Nelson Cruz singled to right to score Jean Segura from second. Segura reached base on an infield single off Austin Pruitt before Kyle Seager beat the shift and singled to left.
Seattle took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Ryon Healy’s single scored Ben Gamel, who started the inning with a triple. After Guillermo Heredia doubled, Healy scored from third on a groundout by David Freitas. It wasn’t a good inning defensively for Tampa Bay center fielder Mallex Smith, who dived trying to catch two line drives in the gap but let both balls roll to the wall.
Leake pitched four scoreless innings and had two outs in the fifth before giving up back-to-back homers to Carlos Gomez and Johnny Field, making it 3-2.
Mariners: C Mike Zunino was not on the starting lineup Friday a quad tightened up on him Thursday night, but Zunino said he was fine and won’t need any additional time off. He pinch hit and remained in the game, going 1 for 2.
MARINERS BULLPEN MOVE
The Mariners designated for assignment LHP Marc Rzepczynski, 32, who was struggling this season.
Seattle RHP Marco Gonzales (5-3) makes his 12th start of the season when he faces Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (3-3) Saturday. Gonzales (3.60 ERA) did not allow an earned run in his previous three starts, a span of 19.1 innings. Archer pitched six innings of a 1-0 victory over Oakland in 13 innings last time out.
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