SEATTLE — On a night in which Safeco Field was jammed with Blue Jays fans, the supporters of each team spent most of the night cheering about jams averted.
The crowd of 32,300 had a distinct North-of-the-Border bias, but the Mariners’ camp got the first big cheer on a leadoff homer by Justin Smoak in the seventh, breaking a scoreless tie.
The Blue Jays’ contingent, however, got the last, and loudest, celebration when the Jays erupted for three in the top of the eighth for a 3-1 victory over the Mariners.
Hisashi Iwakuma was working on a two-hit shutout and clinging to the Smoak-delivered, 1-0 lead heading to the eighth. But Brett Lawrie, a British Columbia native who was a particular crowd favorite, led off with a triple to right-center and came home on Jose Reyes’s one-out single.
That tying run came on Iwakuma’s 102nd pitch, which turned out to be his last. His replacement, Yoervis Medina, got the second out of the inning before a single and walk left the bases loaded. In came Oliver Perez to face pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa, who jumped on an 0-2 pitch and lined a decisive two-run single to left.
Iwakuma had matched zeros with R.A. Dickey, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner, through the first six innings. But Smoak jumped on a 1-1 knuckler from Dickey in the seventh and sent a towering blast deep into the right-field bleachers, his 11th homer.
Dickey has given up 25 homers, second most in the American League, but it was only the seventh he’s allowed on the road.
Dickey, who pitched for the Mariners in 2008, allowed runners in every inning but the second — and only then because of a nice play by third baseman Lawrie diving for a Smoak pop-up after some miscommunication among infielders.
The Mariners’ biggest early threat came in the third inning, when catcher Humberto Quintero led off with double, and moved to third on Kyle Seager’s one-out single. But Kendrys Morales, coming off a road trip in which he went 15 for 26, grounded into a double play. Lawrie started it with a lunging grab of his grounder headed to left field.
The Mariners also had two men aboard in the first, thanks to a passed ball on strike three to Michael Morse â?” the bane of a knuckleballer’s existence. But Raul Ibanez grounded out to end the inning.
After Smoak’s home run, the M’s put runners on third and third with one out, but Seager hit into a double play.
That was the only run allowed by Dickey in 72/3 innings, despite giving up eight hits.