Kendrys Morales got the Mariners off on the right foot, Joe Saunders did what he usually does at Safeco Field, and the M's completed a series victory over Oakland Sunday, 6-1.
Morales tagged a three-run homer in the first inning off Tommy Milone, following a single by Michael Saunders and a four-pitch walk to Kyle Seager. That was Milone's first walk in his last three starts.
Saunders, meanwhile, had some rough patches early, but negotiated 6-1/3 innings and allowed five hits to pick up his third victory in seven 2013 decisions, all at home. He has a road record of 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA, but is 3-0 at Safeco with a 0.94 ERA.
The win nudges the M's back within half a game of the second-place A's in the American League West, as they begin a nine-game road trip Tuesday in New York. It gives Seattle a fourth series victory, with one push, in their last five, after the M's began the season 0-5-2 in their first seven series.
Saunders' most dicey inning was the second, immediately after the Morales blast. Josh Donaldson grounded a double into the right field corner leading off and Luke Montz drilled another double into the left field corner for a run. Then Derek Norris hit a hard single to left, moving Montz to third with none out.
The M's played the infield in, and Nate Freiman hit a grounder to Brendan Ryan at short, and he gunned out Montz at the plate. Then Saunders got Brandon Moss looking at a called third strike and induced Michael Taylor to hit a weak pop to first.
Saunders escaped another prickly jam in the third. With two on and one out, he got Donaldson on a checked-swing foul tip strikeout and retired Montz on a hard grounder to second.
Seattle got more insurance for Saunders in the fourth on Jesus Montero's single, scoring Mike Morse, who had doubled to left-center. Kyle Seager's sacrifice fly to right scored Michael Saunders with the fifth run in the Mariner fifth.
Jason Bay rocked a Jerry Blevins pitch over the center field wall in the seventh with nobody aboard to give Seattle its final run.
©2013 The Seattle Times. Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.