SEATTLE (AP) Jesús Sánchez raced back to the wall, made his leaping attempt and felt there was weight to his glove.
Home run robbery's don't get much better than what Miami's right fielder pulled off on Wednesday night, stealing a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the Marlins' 4-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners and avoid a three-game sweep.
Sánchez's leaping, game-saving catch at the wall robbed Seattle's Eugenio Suárez of a slam that would have tied the game. Instead, it became a painfully long sacrifice fly for Seattle and a highlight moment for Sánchez.
“When I felt that the glove was heavy I knew there that I had made the catch,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “I grabbed the ball, just made the throw. It was great.”
Seattle loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning against A.J. Puk thanks to a pair of errors by Luis Arraez. Suárez lined a 2-1 pitch from Puk deep to right field, but Sánchez quickly tracked his way to the wall and made a leaping grab to pull back the potential game-tying homer.
Ty France scored on the play to break up the shutout, but Cal Raleigh lined out to Sánchez to end the game.
“That's 100 percent the best play that's ever happened when I've been pitching,” Puk said.
It was the third time in the game Suárez hit a long fly ball, only to see it grabbed on the warning track or at the wall.
“It is hard, man, but I understand this game. Sometimes, it’s like that,” Suárez said.
Sánchez's defensive gem made a winner out of 20-year-old rookie Eury Pérez, who dazzled in just his seventh start. Pérez limited the Mariners to just a pair of hits and pitched into the sixth for the first time. Pérez (4-1) struck out six and walked only one and helped Miami’s pitching recover after getting knocked around in the first two games of the series.
“They were swinging a lot of breaking ball pitches in the last couple of games and so we decided to attack with that with the fastball,” Pérez said. “Fastball was extraordinary today.”
Jorge Soler hit his 20th homer of the season hitting a line drive out to deep right-center field off Seattle starter Luis Castillo leading off the sixth inning. Soler hit just 13 homers in 72 games last season for the Marlins, but reached the 20-homer mark for the third time in his career.
Arraez’s chase of .400 ran into a roadblock against Seattle pitching. Arraez went 0-for-3 on Wednesday with a walk and hit by pitch, and was hitless in 12 at-bats in the series. It’s the first time this season Arraez has gone hitless in three straight games.
Pérez had some good fortune also, as two earlier flyouts by Suárez and a long fly ball from Teoscar Hernández failed to carry out of the park that might have cleared the wall on a warmer night.
Castillo (4-5) limited damage overall considering he struggled badly with his control from the outset. Castillo labored through 5 2/3 innings, giving up only two hits and two runs, but matched his career-high with six walks.
Jonathan Davis scored on a wild pitch from Castillo in the third inning, and the Marlins added a pair in the eighth on Nick Fortes’ RBI double and Davis’ sacrifice fly.
“Luis, stuff was really good, just not as sharp command wise as he normally is,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I say all that and they got just two hits off him and a couple of runs.”
Marlins: Injured OF Jazz Chisholm Jr. took batting practice on the field before Wednesday’s game as he continues to recover from a right big toe injury. Manager Skip Schumaker said Chisolm would be re-evaluated Thursday and that this was the first step in eventually getting back on the field.
Mariners: RHP Penn Murfee is seeking a second opinion on his pitching elbow focused on a possible nerve issue and his ulnar collateral ligament. Manager Scott Servais said he expected Murfee to be out an extended period.
Marlins: Following a travel day, Miami opens a weekend series in Washington. RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-5, 4.75) starts looking to follow up on his last outing when he pitched seven innings of one-run ball vs. the White Sox.
Mariners: After an off day, Seattle opens a three-game series with the White Sox on Friday. Rookie RHP Bryan Woo (0-1, 10.80) starts for the Mariners against RHP Michael Kopech (3-5, 4.03) for Chicago.
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