DETROIT (AP) — Tom Wilhelmsen had already allowed two hitters to reach base when Detroit’s Delmon Young hit a deep fly to right-center field.
The ball stayed in the air for a while before Ichiro Suzuki finally caught it.
“Like two hours,” Wilhelmsen joked. “I just looked up and saw Ichie make this grab and was like, ‘Thank God he’s out there.’”
Wilhelmsen held off the Tigers in the eighth inning, and Seattle went on to a 7-4 victory over Detroit on Tuesday night. Alex Liddi had a career-high three hits, including a solo homer, and the Mariners snapped a four-game losing streak.
Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila homered for the Tigers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an early 4-0 deficit. Michael Saunders drove in three runs for Seattle.
Jason Vargas (3-1) pitched six innings for the Mariners, allowing four runs and six hits. He struck out four and walked one. Three relievers finished, with Brandon League pitching a hitless ninth for his sixth save.
Max Scherzer (1-2) allowed five runs and 10 hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Liddi’s homer — his first of the season — made it 6-4 in the seventh. The Italian-born third baseman made his debut last September and had only one two-hit game before Tuesday. He singled in the first and fifth before his home run.
“Our team did a pretty good job putting pressure on the pitcher,” Liddi said. “Every inning, we had somebody on base, so it was a really good game for us.”
The Mariners still led by two when Suzuki made a jumping catch on Young’s flyball with two on in the eighth. Cabrera went to third on that out, but Jhonny Peralta then struck out looking on a breaking ball.
After a passed ball allowed Prince Fielder to move to second as the tying run, Wilhelmsen struck out Avila to end the inning.
“One of the reasons he’s in the back side of our bullpen is because there’s a lot of toughness there,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s a tough cookie out there. He competes. He’s a fighter.”
Scherzer, who has been erratic so far this season, struggled through a 25-pitch first inning, allowing an RBI single by Jesus Montero to open the scoring.
The right-hander appeared to steady himself, fanning Saunders to end the inning and striking out the side in the second, but the Mariners scored three in the third. Kyle Seager drove in a run with a single, and Saunders added a two-run double.
“His stuff was unbelievable, he just couldn’t control it,” Avila said. “That’s what we need to do — get him to a point where he’s got this stuff and gets into a groove. We’ve seen what he can do when he pitches like that.”
Detroit’s Brennan Boesch hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third, and Avila made it 4-3 with a two-run homer the following inning — a 432-foot shot into the shrubbery over the wall just to the right of dead center field. Fielder was on base for that home run after hitting an infield single. His comebacker bounced off Vargas and toward the line between home and third, and the big Detroit slugger hustled down to first.
But the Tigers could never pull even. Miguel Olivo hit a run-scoring groundball in the fifth for Seattle before Cabrera answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Then Liddi restored a two-run advantage.
Saunders hit an RBI double in the ninth.
NOTES: Detroit RHP Al Alburquerque (right elbow surgery) was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. … Opponents are hitting .475 on balls in play off Scherzer this season, according to STATS, LLC. … The Mariners were playing the opener of a 10-game road trip. … Detroit manager Jim Leyland remained stuck on 1,598 wins, one victory shy of catching Tommy Lasorda for 17th on the career list. … Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (1-1) takes the mound Wednesday night against Detroit LHP Adam Wilk (0-2).