The Associated Press
SEATTLE – Brett Lawrie feels right at home at Safeco Field.
© The Associated Press
The Blue Jays’ third baseman, who was born 120 miles away in Langley, British Columbia, had three hits to help Toronto earn a comeback 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
The game was played before 32,300 fans, the vocal majority of whom were Canadians venturing down the freeway from B.C.
“Besides Canada Day and Opening Day, this was the best atmosphere of the year,” said Mark DeRosa, who had a two-run pinch-hit single in the eighth to provide the winning margin. “No offence to the Rogers Center, but this place was jumping tonight.”
Lawrie soaked it in.
“The last road crowd like that was here last year,” Lawrie said. “Obviously, it’s a positive when the whole crowd is cheering for your team. It’s usually the other team. They picked us up tonight.
“It was just a good energy. You could feel the energy in the building, everyone cheering for the Blue Jays. It was fun to be part of.”
R.A. Dickey (9-11) went 7 2-3 innings, allowing one run on eight hits. The knuckleballer struck out five and walked two. He won for the first time since July 1.
“I had a good knuckle ball out my hand tonight,” Dickey said. “But it was certainly about Brett Lawrie tonight. That was fun to watch. His triple, his double, his double play. He was our spark plug tonight. It was good to do that in front of a Canadian crowd. He enjoyed that.”
Casey Janssen worked the ninth for his 20th save in 22 opportunities.
Hisashi Iwakuma (10-5), who pitched 7 1-3 innings, took the loss. He allowed two runs on four hits, striking out two and walked a season-high three. Over his past five starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
Justin Smoak hit his 11th home run in the seventh to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead at the time. Since July 1, Smoak is batting .327 with 16 runs, eight doubles, five homers and 13 RBI.
“He definitely had it dancing tonight,” Smoak said of the knuckler. “When we did have runners on, we didn’t capitalize on it.
“It (home run pitch) was up. I was swinging. Just happened to catch it at the right time.”
After Smoak’s home run, the Jays responded with their three-run, eighth-inning rally. Lawrie opened with a triple into the right-centre gap. With one out, Jose Reyes lined a RBI single to centre, ending Iwakuma’s outing.
Yoervis Medina then complicated the situation for the Mariners, giving up a single to Jose Bautista. Both runners advanced on Medina’s wild pitch. Edward Encarnacion walked to load the bases.
Oliver Perez entered as did DeRosa, who lined his game-winning single to left on an 0-2 pitch. DeRosa is 5-of-14 as a pinch hitter this season with six RBI.
“I always look at the matchup,” DeRosa said. “He prides himself on attacking. There’s a lot of herky-jerky motion. I was just trying to take the lower half out. I knew he’d challenge me. That’s the type of guy he is.”
The Mariners put together a rally in the third but Lawrie had a hand in ending it. Humberto Quintero opened with a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall. With one out, Kyle Seager singled to right, as Quintero held at third.
Kendrys Morales then hit a two-hopper to third baseman Lowrie, who dived to his left to stop it. From his knees, he started a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
“I thought of looking back to third to see where he was but I wanted to get rid of it because knew he (Morales) was a slow runner,” Lawrie said. “I’ve done that (thrown from knees) a couple times. It’s not too bad. You get a good feel for it after a while.”
It was the first win for the Blue Jays at Safeco since Aug. 17, 2011.
The Mariners have had 51 of their 112 games decided by two runs over fewer.
NOTES: Dustin Ackley started at his old position, second base. He had been the team’s regular at that spot but a batting slump and Nick Franklin’s emergence pushed him to the outfield. “They always told me to be ready, just in case. I see why now,” Ackley said. Acting manager Robby Thompson said, “I don’t hesitate for a minute to put him out there.” . Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who suffered a mild stroke July 22 and has missed 13 games, will miss more. There was hope that he could rejoin the team by this homestand but as Thompson said, “he’s doing well. It is a slow process…when that time is, we’re not really sure.” . LHP J.A. Happ was added to the Blue Jays’ roster before the game, replacing RHP Steve Delabar (shoulder), who was placed on the 15-day DL. RHP David Schwimer was designated for assignment to make room for Happ on the 40-man.