Wedge's return sparks Mariners over Twins
Manager suffered stroke last Monday
The Seattle Mariners welcomed a familiar visitor into their clubhouse before Sunday's game, then they went out and got back to their winning ways.
After manager Eric Wedge made his first appearance in front of the team since suffering a stroke last Monday, the Mariners slugged three home runs and ended a two-game losing streak with a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
"We're still thinking of him," said Mariners rookie second baseman Nick Franklin, who homered twice. "He's always in our hearts, and we're wishing for the best."
Wedge surprised the players by coming into a team meeting in the clubhouse a couple of hours before the game. He didn't give any win-one-for-the-skipper speeches, but just seeing him helped inspire the Mariners (50-55). Seattle is 7-3 since the All-Star break.
"It was a pleasant surprise to see him come in," said Seattle's Michael Saunders, whose leadoff home run in the fourth sparked the Mariners' comeback from a 2-0 deficit. "A huge morale boost. It was a huge weight off our shoulders just to see him standing there."
Wedge has missed seven games while recovering from the stroke, and his status will be re-evaluated after the team's upcoming nine-game road trip. Acting manager Robby Thompson has gone 4-3 in Wedge's absence.
Saunders and Franklin homered in Seattle's four-run fourth inning, while starter Erasmo Ramirez (2-0) won his second consecutive start with help from the Mariners' bullpen.
Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar struck out five of the seven batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen threw a scoreless ninth to earn his 24th save of the season and his fifth since the break.
Minnesota's Chris Colabello, who beat the Mariners with an extra-inning home run Friday night, added another when he cleared the center field fence for his second career homer in Sunday's second inning. The two-run shot gave the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Colabello nearly hit another homer in his next at-bat, when he sent a Ramirez pitch over the right field fence in the third inning. However, Endy Chavez stole that one away by making the catch and preserving the 2-0 score.
It was the second home run Chavez took away from a Twins player Sunday. In the second inning, the Twins' Ryan Doumit appeared to have a leadoff home run before Chavez's glove kept the ball in play. Doumit had to settle for a double, and he eventually came around to score on Colabello's two-run shot.
"He made a great play on two of them out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's a big three (runs) at the time.
The Mariners scored their first run on a Kyle Seager sacrifice fly in the third inning. Saunders tied the score 2-2 with a leadoff home run, a 428-foot shot to right field, in the fourth.
"At that point, we were like: 'Let's go, we're in it,'" Franklin said of the Saunders home run. "That was huge."
Franklin then gave Seattle its first lead with a two-out, three-run homer as the Mariners pulled ahead 5-2 in the fourth. He added a solo homer in the seventh, giving Seattle a 6-4 lead.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson (2-3) allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings.
"More than anything else, location," Gardenhire said of Gibson's struggles. "When he missed, they made him pay."
Ramirez went six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits before exiting with a 5-4 lead.
NOTES: Twins 2B Brian Dozier came out of the game with lower back stiffness in the sixth inning. ... RHP Rich Harden, who was attempting a comeback from 2012 shoulder surgery at the Twins' spring training complex, requested and was granted a release over the weekend as he continues to struggle with shoulder soreness. Harden, 31, hasn't officially retired, but the latest setback puts his future in jeopardy. ... The Mariners had won five of their previous six series before splitting the four-game set with the Twins.
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