SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners have the American League's second-best home ERA.
The short-handed Blue Jays are finding out why.
Jason Vargas shut down Toronto for seven innings and leading Seattle to a 7-2 victory Tuesday night. The Blue Jays have struck out 21 times and scored three runs in the first two games of the series.
"In the last two weeks, we've lost four middle-of-the-order bats," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "We are trying to find the combination to keep some innings alive."
They weren't able to do so against Vargas, who has been dominant all month. Vargas (12-7) allowed two earned runs and just five hits Tuesday. He went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA during the July, tying a Mariners record for wins in any month, and is the first to go 5-0 in a month since Felix Hernandez in Sept. 2009.
Dustin Ackley hit Aaron Laffey's first pitch of the game for his second career leadoff homer and seventh of the season overall. Ackley also drove in a run in the fourth on a fielder's choice. Robinson hustled for a double to start the inning off.
Laffey (2-2) lasted just 4 2-3 innings, allowing nine hits and seven runs.
The Mariners roughed up Laffey for three runs in the second after scoring a run in the first.
Mike Carp singled, Miguel Olivo doubled and Trayvon Robinson had an RBI single. Brendan Ryan drove in another with a single to right field — pulling his average to .200 for the first time since April 21. Robinson then scored on Ackley's grounder to first base.
"When I was four-seamer early in the count, they were jumping all over it," Laffey said. "I've gotten away from my sinker the last couple games. That's my bread and butter right there."
Toronto's Brett Lawrie, hitting leadoff Tuesday, had struck out five consecutive times in the series before lacing a double into the left-field corner in the third. His first hit in eight at-bats scored two runs — only because rookie Moises Sierra, who had singled for his first career hit, sprinted past a stop sign from third base coach Brian Butterfield and narrowly scored.
Vargas labored through a 30-pitch inning and had thrown 62 pitches by the end of the third.
But, Vargas then retired 10 straight before Yunel Escobar led off the seventh with a hit. Rajai Davis also singled in the seventh, though Vargas would rebound to get consecutive flyouts from Jeff Mathis and Sierra.
"Once again we find ourselves behind early in the game and (that) kind of eliminates some of the aggressiveness we might otherwise look to use," Farrell said.
Laffey hit Carp to load the bases in the fifth. Brandon Lyon was summoned from the bullpen, and he allowed a two-run single up the middle by Olivo to make it 7-2.
The last time the Mariners won six consecutive games was May 18-23, 2011. The last time they won more than six in a row was June 23-31, 2007.
"One thing that's important to me is you're not just doing it one way or another," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "You have to have multiple ways to win ballgames up here if you're going to be a consistent winner and you're seeing us do that."
NOTES: The Mariners called up relievers Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor from Triple-A Tacoma to take the place of traded relievers Brandon League and Steve Delabar. . Delabar debuted for the Blue Jays a night after being traded from Seattle. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning. ... Outfielder Eric Thames, whom the Mariners traded for Monday, also joined the club. . Sierra was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday. He got the start in right field.