A Mariners team searching for an offensive spark found one on Sunday in the bat of rookie second baseman Dustin Ackley, who ripped three hits and scored the winning run on a bizarre wild pitch in the top of the 10th inning of a 2-1 victory over the Marlins.
Ackley went 3-for-5 in the first multi-hit game of his brief career, including a double and triple. The 2009 first-round Draft pick doubled off tough lefty Randy Choate to lead off the 10th, moved to third on a fly ball to left field by Miguel Olivo and crossed the plate when Florida reliever Steve Cishek threw wide of catcher John Buck while trying to intentionally walk rookie Carlos Peguero.
Ackley has now reached base in all nine of his appearances -- and hit safely in seven of those -- with his batting average now at .300.
Seattle starter Doug Fister wound up with another tough no-decision. Run support has been mighty hard to come by for Fister all season, even after the Mariners' right-hander took matters into his own hands -- and bat -- in this one.
Fister doubled and scored his team's first run in the fifth inning of the Interleague duel, but then saw that lead disappear when Florida tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI double by Omar Infante that capped off a 12-pitch sparring session. Infante fouled off eight straight pitches before the Marlins' second baseman lined a shot into left field to score Jose Lopez with the tying run.
Fister has been one of the Majors' hardest-luck stories all season long. The Mariners have scored a not-so-grand total of eight runs in his eight losses, and his 2.46 run-support average is the lowest for an American League starter.
To make matters worse, Fister had a 5-1 lead through eight innings in his previous start in Washington, but didn't get the win when the bullpen coughed up five runs in the ninth. Thus, Fister has a 3-8 record -- despite an ERA he lowered to 3.18 with Sunday's latest non-winning effort.
The big man provided his own offense in the top of the fifth against Florida's Anibal Sanchez, doubling into the left-center gap with one out, moving to third on a single by Ichiro Suzuki and scoring on a base hit to right by Brendan Ryan.
Fister thus became the first pitcher to score a run in Safeco's 12-year history, since pitchers don't normally hit in the American League park. Safeco did extra duty this weekend in an Interleague series shifted from Miami due to a scheduling conflict with a U2 concert at Sun Life Stadium.
Fister's main job, of course, is getting people out, and he did that again in fine fashion on Sunday by scattering eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts over eight innings.
Seattle's starters have allowed just 11 earned runs over 72 innings for a 1.38 ERA in their last 10 games.
Fister's hit gave Mariners' pitchers a club-record-tying five for the Interleague season, with Sunday being their final "road" game with pitchers batting. The five starters hit 5-for-25 for a .200 average, with Fister topping the group at 2-for-6 in his two crossover starts.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander needed his own offensive help after the Mariners stranded runners at third in the first and fourth innings. The fourth was particularly painful, after Ackley laced a one-out triple over center fielder Dewayne Wise's head, but Olivo grounded out to third and Peguero struck out.
The Mariners helped Fister in other ways, flashing some impressive leather. Ryan reached up to snare a sizzling line drive by Hanley Ramirez in the second, and first baseman Justin Smoak made a nice pickup of a hard shot by Greg Dobbs and converted it into a double play in the fourth.
The Mariners put runners on first and second against reliever Leo Nunez in the top of the ninth, but Smoak popped out to end the threat.