SEATTLE — Nelson Cruz hit a game-ending two-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting the Seattle Mariners over the Cleveland Indians 3-1 on Friday night.
Cruz lined a 2-1 pitch from closer Cody Allen (3-7) out to deep right-center field, snapping Seattle’s six-game skid and improving its very slim wild-card hopes. The Mariners are five games behind Minnesota for the last AL playoff spot with eight games remaining.
Cruz also cooled baseball’s hottest team. Cleveland lost for the second time since Aug. 23, a span of 29 games that included a historic 22-game winning streak. It ended a franchise-record 14-game road winning streak — the Indians hadn’t lost away from home since Aug. 20 at Kansas City.
Robinson Cano singled off Allen to open the ninth, and Cruz followed with his 36th home run.
Erasmo Ramirez shut down Cleveland for a career-high eight innings, and Edwin Diaz (4-6) pitched the ninth to cap a three-hitter.
It was a pitchers’ duel most of the way between Ramirez and Trevor Bauer. Giovanny Urshela homered for Cleveland’s only run, and Seattle pulled even in the seventh. Kyle Seager led off with a double, and Yonder Alonso followed with a single to right. Seager was initially held at third, but Jay Bruce mishandled the ball, and the error allowed Seager to score and tie the game.
Urshela’s homer was his first of the season and seventh of his career. His last home run came on Sept. 14, 2015.
It was the third time in Ramirez’s career that he finished eight innings, but the first time since Sept. 18, 2012 during his first stint with the Mariners. Ramirez kept the Indians guessing throughout, also matching a career-high with 10 strikeouts. He retired the final 18 batters he faced after Urshela’s homer in the third inning.
Ramirez was the first Seattle pitcher to go eight innings since Andrew Moore on July 3.
The outstanding performance from Ramirez kept Bauer from being able to match teammate Corey Kluber with his 17th victory. Bauer scattered five hits over seven innings but was lifted before the eighth with his pitch count at 116 pitches. It was his eighth start of the season allowing one earned run or fewer.
Cleveland: OF Lonnie Chisenhall is scheduled to begin running Saturday as he continues to recover from a calf strain that has kept him out since July. Chisenhall will begin his running rehab back in Cleveland. … OF Brandon Guyer (wrist) will be re-examined when the team returns to Cleveland next week but could be soon cleared to resume hitting.
Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, James Paxton and Nick Vincent were honored by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America on Friday. Cruz was named the team’s MVP, Paxton was voted the pitcher of the year and Vincent was honored with the “Unsung Hero” award.
“For a long time, he was probably the MVP of our team,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Vincent.
Indians: Carlos Carrasco (16-6) tries to match Kluber with 17 wins. Carrasco will be making his 31st start and has won his past four decisions.
Mariners: RHP Andrew Moore (1-4) makes what could be his last start of the season. It will be Moore’s ninth career start and his first against Cleveland.