Michael Saunders hit a solo home run to ignite a ninth-inning rally and clubbed his first career grand slam in the 10th to lift the Seattle Mariners to a 9-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays took a two-run lead into the ninth inning and closer Francisco Cordero gave up Saunders' one-out blast to center field. After Miguel Olivo popped out to short, pinch-hitter Kyle Seager hit a seemingly game-sealing ground ball to Brett Lawrie. But the third baseman's errant throw kept the game alive for the Mariners.
Munenori Kawasaki entered the game as a pinch-runner and he advanced to third when catcher J.P. Arencibia's pickoff attempt went into right field. Cordero then intentionally walked Dustin Ackley and pinch-hitter John Jaso delivered a game-tying single to center field. Ackley was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Toronto's Luis Perez (2-1) gave up three consecutive one-out singles in the 10th before Saunders put the Mariners on top with a drive over the right-field wall.
Brandon League coaxed three ground balls from Toronto hitters to secure Seattle's fourth consecutive victory.
Charlie Furbush (2-1) recorded the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth to earn the win. Blake Beavan got the start for Seattle and surrendered three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.
"We came back and we're in the ball game and then you fight back again and you tie it and then you put yourself in a position to win it late and that's what these guys did," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge about the victory.
Toronto starting pitcher Ricky Romero didn't allowed a hit through five innings before pitching into the seventh. The left-hander was tagged for three runs (two earned), four hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
"In a season there's ups and downs and you try to stay away from the downs as much as possible," remarked Arencibia. "I think it's a little rough patch but we have to stay positive."
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the second on Edwin Encarnacion's leadoff home run to center.
Seattle quickly tied the game in the third. Romero threw eight straight balls to begin the frame and the walks proved costly when Saunders scored on a fielding error by Lawrie.
Colby Rasmus put Toronto up 3-1 in the fourth when his double into the right- field corner plated Encarnacion and Eric Thames.
The Mariners battled back in the seventh, tying the game on a Jesus Montero leadoff home run and run-scoring double by Casper Wells.
Thames belted a tiebreaking home run to right-center off Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth. Lawrie followed with a single and a poor pickoff throw by Wilhelmsen enabled him to advance to third before Arencibia, who was tagged out at home on a pinpoint throw by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki to end the seventh, lofted a sacrifice fly.
Toronto has lost four games in a row...The Blue Jays won six of nine over the Mariners last season, including a three-game sweep at home from July 19-21...Cordero blew his first save opportunity of the season. He had six blown saves with the Cincinnati Reds in 2011.