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SEATTLE—In the space of just over 10 minutes, centerfielder Cedric Mullins made perhaps the best catch of his career and hit a game-winning home run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mullins’ brilliant leaping catch prevented an Orioles loss, and in the top of the 10th, his two-run home run gave them a series win.
Mullins’ 10th home run scored Gunnar Henderson and gave the Orioles a 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners before an announced crowd of 44,818 at T-Mobile Park on Sunday.
“To come up with a catch in that big moment was huge, and I know it kept the momentum on our side during that game,” Mullins said.
It was the second straight 10th-inning win for the Orioles. Nick Vespi (1-0) recorded the final out of the bottom of the ninth, and Shintaro Fujinami picked up his first save.
Closer Félix Bautista was unavailable because he pitched two innings in the Orioles’ 1-0 win on Saturday night.
The Orioles (73-45) increased their lead in the American League East to three games since Cleveland beat Tampa Bay.
Mullins nearly homered just before his decisive hit, but his swing against Trent Thornton (0-1) went about 5 feet foul.
“You see guys make extremely good defensive plays and end up coming up with a big-time hit. How many times do you see someone make that play, hit a homer foul and then hit a homer?” catcher James McCann said. “Especially for a guy who didn’t start the game … Words don’t describe how big he was for us today.”
Mullins thought the foul ball was going to stay fair.
“One hundred percent. I looked at it. I saw it tailing. I thought it was going to hit the pole or at least stay in,” Mullins said. “For me to grind the rest of that at-bat out and hit another one was pretty special.”
Jordan Westburg led off the ninth with a ground-rule double against Andrés Muñoz. and McCann walked. Muñoz then balked and Jorge Mateo, who ran for Westburg, and McCann advanced to second and third.
Mariners manager Scott Servais was ejected for arguing about the call.
Adley Rutschman tapped a ball back to Muñoz, whose throw home was not in time to get Mateo, and the Orioles led, 3-2.
Mike Baumann retired Teoscar Hernández on a popup to first and Ty France hit a drive to center that Mullins leaped and caught, preventing a game-tying home run.
“When he came down and pumped his fist, that was an amazing feeling in our dugout,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
“There’s always a scenario: Robbing a home run or hitting one? To do it basically within an inning is pretty cool,” Mullins said.
Mullins was playing in his third game since returning from his second lengthy stay on the injured list with an adductor groin strain.
“It happens. It’s just a matter of continuing to deal with them,” Mullins said.
The catch was made even bigger when Dominic Canzone followed with his second home run to tie it at 3.
“One of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen,” McCann said.
“For the moment, it ranks in the top three,” Mullins said. “It might be number one. I’ll have to go back through the archive.”
It was Fujinami’s first save situation with the Orioles.
“He fell behind the first hitter and then I made the visit I reminded him he’s got nasty stuff. ‘Fill it up. These hitters don’t want to face you. You throw strikes, and we’re going to get out of this,’” McCann said.
McCann reached on an error by shortstop Dylan Moore with one out in the third, moved to third on Rutschman’s single and scored on Henderson’s sacrifice fly to left.
Seattle (63-54) tied it against Oriole starter Kyle Bradish in the bottom of the third when Josh Rojas walked with one out, moved to second on Julio Rodríguez’s infield out and scored on Eugenio Suárez’s single.
The Mariners took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Rojas’ single and Rodríguez’s RBI double.
Austin Hays’ RBI single against Bryce Miller scored Ryan Mountcastle in the sixth to tie it at 2.
Bradish allowed two runs on five hits in six innings. During his time on the mound, Mullins was enjoying a day off. He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth.
“He’s a top-tier centerfielder,” Bradish said. “One of the best in the league. Whenever the ball goes up, you think he’s going to get there. It’s great having him out there.”
In the first 27 innings of the series, the Orioles had six runs and 15 hits, but thanks to Mullins, they go on to San Diego with their 23rd series win.
“[Seattle] is first in ERA out of 30 teams, and they probably have the best rotation with some of the best bullpen arms in the game,” Hyde said. “We just did things over and over again so well this series … Team at-bats, team baseball, team defense. Our guys are appreciating and understanding how fun it is to play that way, and that’s why our record is what it is.”
Notes: Mountcastle reached base for the 20th straight game, best in his career. …The Orioles play three games at San Diego. On Monday, it’s Grayson Rodriguez (2-3, 5.84) and Yu Darvish (8-7, 4.19). Game time is 9:40 p.m.
Minor league update: Catcher Maverick Handley drove in four runs, first baseman Coby Mayo, centerfielder Daz Cameron and shortstop Joey Ortiz each drove in two as Triple-A Norfolk beat Jacksonville, 13-7.
Jackson Holliday had two hits, raising his average to .380, in Double-A Bowie’s 5-3 win over Richmond in 11 innings.
Alex Pham allowed one run on four hits in five innings, striking out five without walking a batter.
High-A Aberdeen was held to three hits in its 6-0 loss to Brooklyn.
Designated hitter Matthew Etzel drove in six runs and hit a grand slam as Single-A Delmarva beat Carolina, 8-4.
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