SPORTS

Slammin' Saunders: Mariners centre-fielder hits grand slam in 9-5 win over Jays

04/27/2012 10:54 EDT | Updated 06/27/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays appeared to have turned things around Friday night after closing out a road trip with three straight losses.

Instead, an error-filled ninth inning resulted in one of their toughest defeats of the young season.

The Seattle Mariners took full advantage of the Blue Jays' shoddy defence and came back for a 9-5 victory at Rogers Centre. Canadian Michael Saunders delivered the crushing blow, launching a rainbow grand slam over the right-field wall in the 10th inning off Luis Perez (2-1).

"I was just trying to hit a ball to the outfield more than anything," Saunders said. "He hung me an off-speed pitch and I was able to put it up there."

The Jays had a chance to end the game in the ninth inning. With two out, third baseman Brett Lawrie fielded a routine grounder but his throw to first was in the dirt, allowing Kyle Seager to reach base.

"I take full responsibility for that," Lawrie said. "That game should be over. Everyone should be out and celebrating the win and instead we're all a little bit down after that one, including myself."

Munenori Kawasaki came on as a pinch-runner for Seager and moved to third when catcher J.P. Arencibia's throw to first sailed down the right-field line.

"I thought J.P. in that situation probably didn't make the right decision with trying to force a throw and trying to force the pickoff attempt," Farrell said. "Unfortunately that's what took place."

Dustin Ackley was intentionally walked before John Jaso drove in Kawasaki with the tying run on a single to centre field.

"It's a tough game and if you give major-league guys extra outs, you get hurt," Arencibia said.

Seattle improved to 11-10 with their fourth straight win while the Blue Jays fell to 10-10 with their fourth loss in a row.

Charlie Furbush (2-1) worked two outs for the victory. Former Toronto pitcher Brandon League retired the Blue Jays in order in the 10th inning.

Saunders, a Victoria native, helped force extra innings with a solo homer in the ninth off Francisco Cordero.

"We came back and showed the character that's in this dressing room," Saunders said. "It wasn’t just a couple of hits. It was a full team game."

Eric Thames and Edwin Encarnacion homered for the Blue Jays while Jesus Montero had the other home run for Seattle. Both teams had 11 hits on the night.

Encarnacion opened the scoring in the second with a solo shot to deep centre field off Mariners starter Blake Beavan.

Seattle scratched out a run in the third inning after uncharacteristic back-to-back walks from Jays starter Ricky Romero. Saunders advanced to third on a fielder's choice and scored when Lawrie booted a grounder to third from Brendan Ryan.

The Jays made it a 3-1 game in the fourth inning. Encarnacion started the rally with a one-out double, Thames followed with an infield hit and Colby Rasmus drove both runners in with a double into the right-field corner.

Ackley led off the sixth inning with a double to end Romero's no-hit bid. The Blue Jays ace set down the next three Mariners in order.

Seattle chased Romero in the seventh inning. Montero hit a solo homer and Casper Wells drove in Miguel Olivo with a two-out RBI double. Reliever Jason Frasor got Ryan to fly out to end the threat.

Toronto nearly took the lead in the bottom half of the seventh but Mariners right-fielder Ichiro Suzuki threw out Arencibia at home plate to end the inning.

The Jays had built a 5-3 lead in the eighth when Thames hit a solo shot and Lawrie, who's from Langley, B.C., scored on a sacrifice fly from Arencibia.

Romero allowed two earned runs over six-plus innings. He gave up four hits and three walks while striking out five.

Beavan gave up three earned runs over five-plus innings.

Announced attendance was 24,303 and the game took three hours 35 minutes to play.

Notes: Outfielder Travis Snider underwent an MRI exam Friday after injuring his right wrist a night earlier with the Las Vegas 51s. Snider, who lost the left-fielder job to Thames at spring training, has a .400 batting average after 19 games with Toronto's triple-A affiliate. ... The Blue Jays and Mariners will continue their three-game series Saturday afternoon at 4:07 p.m. Eastern Time. Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow (1-1) is scheduled to start against Kevin Millwood (0-1). ... Toronto holds a 187-166 edge in all-time meetings between the teams.

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