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SEA@CLE: Pena falls a triple short of the cycle

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez has seen the other side of this scenario, the one where the Mariners' offense struggles and runs are scarce and wins difficult. So on Wednesday, when a youth-laced Seattle lineup came out and put up 16 hits in a 9-2 victory over the Indians, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was all smiles.

"Wow. That's the future," Hernandez said after Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley contributed seven hits on a day the Mariners started five rookies. "Hopefully, I'll be here. I will be here. Seager, Ackley, all those guys.

"And did you see this guy over here, Wily Mo Pena? He hit those line drives. Unbelievable. It's awesome to see that. Wow. He's like me. Power guy. OK, he's a little bit stronger than me."

Seager, 23, capped off an incredible series with a 4-for-4 day, as the rookie third baseman ripped three doubles. Ackley, 23, went 3-for-5. The veteran Pena, added to the roster two weeks ago, came a triple shy of a cycle and racked up four RBIs.

It all added up to a rare runaway for a Mariners club that continued its August offensive surge by winning three of four at Progressive Field, its first victorious road series since June 10-12 at Detroit.

Hernandez, who held the Indians in check for six innings, gratefully accepted the help of his hitters while improving to 12-11 with a 3.37 ERA.

A night earlier, Seattle put up 12 runs to help rookie Anthony Vasquez win his Major League debut, a fact duly noted by the veteran right-hander who has seen his team score one or fewer runs for him in 11 of his 27 starts this season.

"Yes, I saw that," Hernandez noted. "I was talking to the guys and said, 'Save some runs for me tomorrow.' They came out today and swung the bats pretty good. It's awesome."

Seattle has ranked last in the Majors in hitting all year, but is batting .283 as a team this month, after an influx of youth. None of the newcomers are hotter than Seager, who hit .600 (15-for 25) on the seven-game road trip, with five doubles and two home runs.

"This is definitely the best 24 hours I've had in a while," Seager said after going 10-for-13 in Tuesday's doubleheader and Wednesday's win. "It's been a good couple games here. Hopefully, it'll continue for a little bit, and I can ride the wave."

Seager started the seven-game road swing in St. Petersburg hitting .182, but heads back to Safeco Field now batting a healthy .313.

"We couldn't get [Seager] out," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "That was one of the reasons we struggled so much. We couldn't get their bottom of the order out the whole series. He was having a very good season in Triple-A when they called him up. That I know. I knew that when they called him up. He showed up hitting, like, .246 and just caught fire against us. He killed us."

Seager's three doubles tied Rob Johnson (2009) and Alvin Davis ('84) for the Mariners' rookie record, and only 23 previous players had managed that feat in franchise history.

The Mariners did much of their damage against Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, knocking him out after 4 2/3 innings to end his streak of 37 straight starts of at least five innings to open his career. The only other Major Leaguer to manage that feat since 1919 was former Indians pitcher and current Toronto manager John Farrell.

With a short-handed bullpen coming off Tuesday's doubleheader, the Mariners needed Hernandez to pitch deep into the game. And despite a 25-pitch first inning with a pair of walks, "The King" complied with six strong innings in which he gave up two runs, seven hits, two walks and struck out 10.

It was the seventh double-digit strikeout day of the season for Hernandez, who ranks second in the AL behind Justin Verlander with 195.

The six innings pushed Hernandez to 200 2/3 for the season, his fourth consecutive year over 200.

Pena, promoted from Triple-A on Aug. 13, smoked a two-run home run to center field off Tomlin in the fourth inning to get the offense rolling and added a two-run double in the fifth when Seattle pushed four more across the plate.

The home run was Pena's second with the Mariners and seventh of the season, as he played for the D-backs for a month earlier in the year. He went 3-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and a walk, his first in 68 at-bats this season, to raise his average to .229.

Pena, who has six RBIs in six games for Seattle, said he didn't really get all of the ball that wound up being a 412-foot home run.

"No, I didn't hit the ball good," said the 230-pound slugger. "I was just trying to make contact, because my right hand has been bothering me. So when I hit it, I let go with one hand. I thought it was going to be a double, or hit the wall. I never thought it was going to be a home run."

The big man was definitely trying to hit the ball hard in his last at-bat in the eighth, when he had a chance for the cycle. Instead, he took a pitch off the shoulder from reliever Chad Durbin.

"I said, 'If I hit the ball to the wall, if they're going to throw, I'll just keep running,'" Pena said with a smile. "'If they get me out, they get me out,' but I was going to keep running to third base."

Seattle had six extra-base hits on the day. Shortstop Brendan Ryan ripped a two-run triple in the seventh, as the Mariners pushed the lead to 9-2 and provided some cushion for the bullpen.

Ryan did commit two throwing errors on a day Seattle committed four defensive miscues. But with the offense chalking up nine runs, on the heels of 17 combined runs in Tuesday's doubleheader split, the Mariners finally had some margin for error.

The 21 runs in their past two games is the Mariners' most in back-to-back outings since Aug. 8-9, 2007, against the Orioles and Indians. Comments