Seattle Mariners

Montero’s homer carries Mariners to 3-1 victory over Angels

Jesus Montero of the Mariners hits a three-run homer against the Angels on Wednesday at Safeco Field.
Jesus Montero of the Mariners hits a three-run homer against the Angels on Wednesday at Safeco Field. The Associated Press

Even after three years, Jesus Montero continues to beat on Angels right-hander Jered Weaver like a dusty rug.

Montero hit a three-run homer Wednesday night that carried the Mariners to a 3-1 victory at Safeco Field — his fifth homer in 12 career at-bats against Weaver.

“It’s funny,” Montero said. “I hit him really good before. All of my thinking is to hit the ball to right field — middle to right field. He throws across (his body), so I tried to have my swing be inside out.”

That sounds like a good plan, but … Weaver hung a curveball, and Montero yanked it over the left-field wall with two outs and two runners aboard in the fourth inning.

“He got me out on my first at-bat with that same curveball,” Montero said. “I was looking for a fastball, and he threw me that slow one right there. The next one, I just sat on it. I saw it in the middle, and I hit it.”

It seemed to matter little that Montero, before Wednesday, had not faced Weaver since 2012.

“I don’t know,” Weaver said. “I’d like to pick his brain a little bit. You’re going to have guys like that in your career.”

Montero’s homer provided the Mariners with their only runs, but Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4) and the bullpen made it stand up. Iwaukma struck out nine in six innings before exiting because of tightness in his lower back.

“It came gradually,” he said. “Each inning, it started to get tighter and tighter. It’s still tight but, after a victory, it feels good.”

Iwakuma is expected to make his next start on schedule.

“It’s just minor,” he said. “I’ve been battling this situation for a while. It just got tight.”

The Mariners closed out their victory by getting one scoreless inning apiece from Danny Farquhar, Carson Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen.

Smith stranded runners at first and third with one out in the eighth by striking out Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout. Wilhelmsen pitched around a two-out double in the ninth for his 11th save.

The victory enabled the Mariners to salvage a 5-5 homestand and improve to 71-76 with 15 games remaining. They trail Houston by 6 1/2 games for the American League’s final wild-card berth.

The game grew testy in the fifth inning after Kyle Seager asked for, and was granted, time by umpire Brian O’Nora. After Seager and Weaver exchanged words, Weaver hit Seager with an 83-mph fastball.

“It started out pretty normal,” Seager said. “I was calling time out. It takes me a little while to get in the box. I had my hand up the whole time. He started to pitch, and I kept my hand up.

“I guess he didn’t particularly care for it.”

Weaver’s version: “It’s not when he’s ready. It’s when we’re both ready. When you’ve got both your feet in there, it means you’re ready to go.”

O’Nora immediately ejected Weaver and escorted Seager toward first. Seager never made a move toward the mound — neither bench made much of a move — but there were more words. Hard words.

Weaver (7-11) gave up three runs and six hits in his 4 2/3 innings.

As for Montero’s star turn, it came after singles by Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith put runners at first and second with two outs in the fourth. Cruz’s single was his 166th hit of the season, which matched a career high.

Montero followed with a no-doubt drive to left.

The Angels got their only run on Murphy’s leadoff homer in the sixth.

The Mariners survived two base-running mistakes by rookie Ketel Marte. The first came after his one-out single in the third inning.

Marte appeared to steal second and take third when hit by the throw from catcher Carlos Perez — as the ball caromed into the outfield.

But Marte, as he scrambled to his feet, never actually touched second. The Angels ran an appeal play before the next pitch. And Marte was out.

The other mistake came in the eighth after Marte led off with a single. He broke for second on Seager’s sharp grounder to first. C.J. Cron touched first for one out and threw to second for what was no longer a force.

Marte beat the throw easily but came off the base in a pop-up slide while shortstop Erick Aybar kept the tag applied. When umpire Kerwin Danley initially called Marte safe, the Angels challenged. A replay reversed the call.

“Marte will be just fine,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Part of the growing pains is they don’t have replays at the Triple-A level. You can pop up. It’s OK. Here, you can’t use the pop-up slide.

“Kids are going to bring a lot of excitement. And they’re going to bring some headaches. After this is over, I’m going to have some ice cream and a couple of Tylenol.”

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

FRIDAY: Seattle (LHP James Paxton: 3-4, 3.82 ERA) at Texas (RHP Yovani Gallardo: 12-10, 3.35), 5:05 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM

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