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Dustin Ackley's home run helps Mariners beat Nationals, 5-3

By Matt Pentz, The Seattle Times
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 31--Dustin Ackley's swing might not have been the most powerful on a Sunday afternoon full of long balls at Safeco Field. The most powerful was the cut Bryce Harper put on his 418-foot home run in the second.

It might not have even been the most statistically historic: Harper's second homer of the game was Washington's 10th of the weekend series, a blast shy the Safeco series record set by Cleveland in 2009.

But Ackley's swing put the Mariners ahead for good on Sunday.

It deposited Tanner Roark's 2-0 pitch a few rows into the right-field seats with one down in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs and giving Seattle a lead it would hold through the final out of a 5-3 win to salvage a game from the weekend series with the National League leaders.

The power surge began in the top of the second, when Harper accepted the invitation of the Hit-It-Here Café with a drive over the right-fence and off the restaurant's shatterproof windows.

Nate Schierholtz doubled the Nationals lead with another solo shot off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma an inning later, and Harper turned this into his first multi-homer game of the season -- and the fifth of his career -- with yet another solo bomb in top of the third.

Seattle (73-62) manufactured its first run in the bottom of the third, when Brad Miller led off with a double, Austin Jackson moved him to third on an infield single and Ackley brought Miller home on a hit-and-run through the gap Nats shortstop Ian Desmond had just vacated.

That very stretch of the order sparked another rally in the fifth.

Nine-hole hitter Miller, who finished 3 for 3, dropped a single into center and leadoff-man Jackson followed with the second of his own three hits.

Then Ackley brought the 29,221 spectators to their feet with the final three of his game-high four RBI to give the Mariners their first lead at 4-3.

Iwakuma limited damage early on, needing an over-the-shoulder catch from Jackson in center, an grounder into the shallow infield from Jayson Werth and a two-out strikeout of Adam LaRoche to keep the deficit at two in the third.

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But the Seattle righty eased into a groove, retiring eight straight Nationals after Harper's second homer and stretching his outing through the sixth. Iwakuma threw 86 pitches but just 19 in the fifth and sixth innings combined, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five.

The Washington lineup, so potent early on, didn't manage a single hit from the fifth-through-the-eighth innings against Iwakuma and a string of relievers: Charlie Furbush, who faced only one batter but made it count, striking out Harper with a high heater; Danny Farquhar, who stranded runners at the corners in the seventh; and Yoervis Medina, who pitched around a two-walk in the eighth.

Endy Chavez's eighth-inning double knocked in pinch-hitter James Jones to plate a run of insurance for Fernando Rodney.

And the closer allowed only Harper to reach base in the ninth, following a leadoff single with a line out and consecutive groundouts to bring Seattle's homestand to a victorious end.


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