SEATTLE – On the day Felix Hernandez returned to the mound, Leonys Martin gave the Seattle Mariners the biggest boost.
Martin hit his second home run of the game, a solo shot with one out in the 11th inning that sent Seattle over the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday.
“Every time you win a ballgame, it’s good no matter how you win the ballgame, but this is a great feeling,” Martin said.
Martin hit a two-run drive in the second inning. He then drove a 0-2 pitch from Dan Jennings (3-2) over the wall in right for his 13th homer. His previous season high was eight homers in 457 at-bats with Texas in 2013.
“With two strikes, especially in the second half, he’s taking some walks, he’s not swinging quite as hard,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I believe the pitch he hit out was a 0-2 pitch. Not trying to kill it, just hit it, because he’s got a lot of ability.”
Vidal Nuno (1-1) pitched one inning for the victory.
Seattle pulled within 5-4 on Mike Zunino’s two-run homer in seventh. The Mariners tied it on Adam Lind’s solo shot in the eighth.
The Mariners nearly won it in the 10th. Nelson Cruz drew a two-out walk and tried to score on Kyle Seager’s double, but right fielder Adam Eaton threw out the Seattle slugger at the plate.
Hernandez, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, allowed five runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two in his first start since May 27.
“It feels good to be out there, try and do my job to help my team to win,” said Hernandez, who threw 94 pitches. “I had a good sinker, got a lot of groundballs. They were swinging, they were swinging at every pitch and that’s why my pitch count was pretty low.”
Todd Frazier hit a three-run homer in the first off Hernandez. Frazier’s 28th home run tied him for the major league lead with Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo.
“It was a change-up. I left it up,” Hernandez said. “Frazier’s got pretty good pop and put a good swing on it.”
Hernandez struck out Eaton to begin the game, but Melky Cabrera followed with a double into the left-field corner. Justin Morneau drew a two-out walk and Frazier connected for his third homer in three games.
The White Sox added a run in the second on consecutive two-out singles by Tyler Saladino, Eaton and Cabrera to make it 4-0. Martin homered in the bottom half.
Chicago pushed the lead to 5-2 in the fifth on a leadoff triple by Cabrera and Morneau’s single.
Seattle cut the led to 5-4 in the seventh on the home run by Zunino, also called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma. It was the third homer for Zunino, who hit two during an earlier two-game call-up.
Lind, whose pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth inning gave Seattle a 4-3 victory on Monday, tied it with his 15th homer.
“The home run was our friend early, and then it became our enemy,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You give up enough of those, it’s tough to withstand it.”
Servais was pleased with what he saw from Hernandez.
“I think for the first time out, he was probably better than I thought he would be, other than the home run that he gave up to Frazier,” Servais said. “I thought his stuff was good, I thought he was pretty crisp, but after the first inning at that point if you had told me he was going to get as deep as he did into the game, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.”
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