"A table-setter, that's what I'm here to do," Smith said. "Set the tone, get my team going. Then let my team do what they got to do." The Orioles trailed 10-3 after the fifth inning before scoring five runs in the sixth and another in the seventh to pull within one, but couldn't tie it.
Baltimore is mired in its longest skid since 2010 and is 8-32 since last winning consecutive games on May 4 and 6 against Tampa Bay and Boston. The losing streak is tied for the eighth-longest in team history, according to STATS, and is almost halfway to the team record of 21 set in 1988.
"The first couple innings I wasn't sure how we were going to get through the game to be honest with you," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "Give our offensive guys credit for hanging in there." Smith, J.P. Crawford and Domingo Santana — the Mariners' 1-2-3 hitters — reached base safely 11 consecutive times before the Orioles finally struck out Santana in the fifth inning. During that span they had seven hits and drew four walks with five RBIs and five runs scored. Smith and Crawford had a hit in each of the first three innings. Smith was 3 for 3 with two walks and an RBI and Crawford was 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run.
"(Smith) and J.P. at the top of the lineup, it's been fun, it's been fun to watch," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "The quality of at-bats are really good." Crawford said Smith's double to start the game — which looked like a sure triple in the right-field corner before it bounced out for a ground-rule double — got the Mariners rolling.
"Mallex got it started from the get-go," Crawford said. "I think he gives a fire in the whole lineup if he starts the game with a double. It makes you want to hit, it makes you want to drive him in. He gets the game started, and it was on the whole night."
Baltimore's first three pitchers — emergency starter Sean Gilmartin (0-1), Branden Kline and Tanner Scott — are all minor-league call-ups. Kline and Scott began their day at minor league road destinations in Pennsylvania and arrived in Seattle during the afternoon after cross-country flights, two of the 15 roster moves the club has made to its bullpen in the last seven days.
Gilmartin, making his first appearance of the season, gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings. Kline gave up four runs in four innings. And Scott lasted just two-thirds of an inning, walking three and giving up a run.
Yet, the Orioles were in the game as late as the sixth inning when they battered starter Mike Leake (7-6) for five runs to cut the deficit to 10-8. Leake started roughly, giving up four straight hits in the first inning to fall behind 3-0. But his team turned a double play to end the run and Leake went on to retire 14 straight before Jonathan Villar's leadoff double in the sixth.
Leake induced a groundout, but then allowed six straight baserunners on five hits and a fielder's choice with run-scoring hits by Dwight Smith Jr., Chance Sisco and Hanser Alberto to chase Leake and cut the lead to two. Leake gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Reliever Cory Gearin got out of the inning by forcing two groundouts, but gave up a run in the seventh to cut it to 10-9. Roenis Elias pitched the ninth for his ninth save and second in two days. It was the third straight win for the Mariners, who had been without back-to-back wins since May 13-14 before this streak.
STEAL WHEELS Smith admitted to entering Friday's game extra juiced after he felt like he'd been robbed of a stolen base the night before in a 5-2 win over the Orioles. The scorekeeper made the rare ruling of indifference on a late, successful steal of third against the switch defense. But after consulting with the Elias Sports Bureau, the scorekeeper reversed his ruling. Smith stole his 20th and 21st bases on Friday.
"I was pissed," Smith said. "At that point what constitutes a stolen base? You can't fault me because of their positioning. The game was still in touch. And I stole a base, period. It doesn't matter how that happened, it happened."
UP NEXT Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner (6-3, 4.48 ERA) gets nearly two more runs per game (4.21) from his teammates than any other Orioles pitcher. Mariners: After using more relievers than expected Friday night, the team announced LHP Tommy Milone (1-1, 3.03 ERA) will start Saturday against the Orioles rather than an opener.
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