SEATTLE (AP) — Wade LeBlanc got the Mariners off to a strong start to the second half of their season.
The left-hander and two relievers combined on a five-hitter, and Seattle beat the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Friday night.
LeBlanc (6-1) gave the Mariners 7 1/3 strong innings in the team’s first game after the All-Star break.
LeBlanc surrendered two hits in the first, including Daniel Palka’s RBI double to center field, but gave up only two hits and a walk in his next 6 1/3 innings.
He finished with a career high-tying 10 strikeouts.
“It’s Wade’s world,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “What can you say? Ten strikeouts, just really good stuff on the edges, had them off balance all night. A great way for us to come back after the All-Star break.”
LeBlanc, who last struck out 10 batters in a game while with the San Diego Padres in 2011, improved to 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA in nine home starts this season.
He said he wasn’t concerned with the amount of batters he fanned but focused more on a different figure.
“I think the biggest number is (getting) 22 outs,” LeBlanc said. “It’s huge. It’s good to be able to do that coming out of the break to kind of set the tone and get some momentum going heading into tomorrow.”
Seattle answered Chicago’s early run in the bottom of the first. Dee Gordon, who went 4 for 4, singled to lead off the game against White Sox right-hander James Shields (4-11) and scored on Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly.
The Mariners took the lead in the fourth. Kyle Seager hit a one-out, ground-rule double and advanced to third on Denard Span’s single.
Ryon Healy followed with a hard grounder that bounced off third baseman Yolmer Sanchez’s glove, allowing Seager to score on the fielder’s choice.
Reliever Alex Colome finished off a scoreless eighth, and Cruz singled in a run in the bottom of that inning to give Seattle a two-run lead.
Mariners closer Edwin Diaz, pitching for the first time since blowing a save but getting the win for the American League in the All-Star Game, pitched a scoreless ninth for his league-leading 37th save.
But the story of the game was LeBlanc, a one-time journeyman who continues to cement his spot in the rotation of a Mariners team that improved to 59-39.
“He was working all quadrants,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He was speeding you up, slowing you down. He was executing very, very well . very effective, very confident, knows what to do.”
Seattle called up first baseman Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder John Andreoli from Triple-A Tacoma and outrighted pitcher Mike Morin.
The name missing from Seattle’s roster moves was catcher Mike Zunino, who was thought to be ready to come off the disabled list following the All-Star break after missing time with a bone bruise in his left ankle.
Servais said Zunino is expected to play at least a couple of games this weekend at Tacoma before he’s likely to be recalled.
The addition of two position players is likely to be a short-term move with Seattle bringing Felix Hernandez off the DL to start Saturday.
White Sox: Outfielder Nicky Delmonico was reinstated from his injury rehab assignment on Friday. Delmonico was out since May 19 with a fractured finger on his right hand. Delmonico appeared in 10 games on rehab with Triple-A Charlotte.
Mariners: Left-handed starter James Paxton will throw a bullpen session on Saturday and is on track to return to the rotation against San Francisco early next week. Paxton went on the disabled list on July 13 with lower back stiffness. He said he threw a little during the All-Star break, but the bullpen will tell if he’s ready to go next week.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (3-5) takes the hill Saturday in the second game of the three-game set at Safeco Field.
Covey is 0-4 with an 11.70 ERA and six home runs allowed over his last five starts.
Mariners: Hernandez (8-7) returns from a DL stint with lower back stiffness. He has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last five starts.
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