SEATTLE — There were no apologizes coming from the Seattle Mariners clubhouse for how they finally got back above the .500 mark. All Arizona's Tony Clark wanted to do was say he was sorry. The most routine of plays — a throw across the infield — resulted in a wacky finish that left players and managers on both sides stunned and speechless.
Clark, who played his 1,202nd game at first base entering Sunday, dropped a routine toss from third baseman Mark Reynolds allowing Ronny Cedeno to score the winning run for the Mariners with two outs in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Sunday.
"I missed it. ... I missed it," Clark said quietly. "It's a play I should have made."
Asked if he lost the ball at all as it came zipping from Reynolds' hand, Clark said, "I just missed it. That's my fault."
Chad Qualls got Franklin Gutierrez to ground slowly toward third where Reynolds charged, fielded cleanly and fired a perfect throw to Clark. With everyone in the stadium assuming the game was headed to extra innings, the ball hit Clark's glove in the palm and popped out, setting off an awkward celebration for the Mariners, who swept the three-game series and climbed above .500 for the first time since May 7.
The slumping Diamondbacks were left stunned. Clark briefly looked down toward his glove and the ball, before slowly walking off the field. Clay Zavada, who was tagged with the first loss of his career, sat in the dugout with his hands on his head.
While the loss left the Arizona manager A.J. Hinch searching for an explanation, the Mariners were relishing the odd finish that boosted them back to 35-34 and above .500 for the first time since May 7 when they were at 15-14 on a miserable 1-9 road trip.
Following its sweep of Arizona, Seattle has won five of six and nine of its last 14 to close the gap with Texas and the Angels in the meek AL West.
Still, that wasn't of much concern in the Mariners' clubhouse afterward. They were all trying to figure out if they had ever seen a game end on an error like that.
"It doesn't matter how we won the game. We won the game," Gutierrez said. "I was trying to run hard, and just see what happens. If you run hard, he's probably going to make a bad throw."
Outside of Clark, Seattle first base coach Lee Tinsley probably had the best view of the final play. Reynolds throw was on target, but rushed, and Tinsley said the throw tailed severely in the final few feet before finding Clark's glove.
"I've known Tony for a lot of years; he's a really good first baseman," Tinsley said. "And when that ball rode in and handcuffed, I thought, 'If he can't catch that ball, then most people can't catch it.'"
Not that this will make the Diamondbacks feel any better. They were swept for the second time this season and fell a season-worst 12 games below .500.
"It's a miserable ending to a rough road trip," Hinch said.
The ninth inning started when Cedeno walked against Zavada (0-1). Ichiro Suzuki outlasted Zavada on a 12-pitch at-bat, fouling off six straight pitches before a broken-bat roller to short that Suzuki beat out by a step.
Chris Woodward failed to advance the runners, coming up empty on three attempts to lay down a sacrifice bunt in fair territory. Mike Carp tapped to first for the second out as both runners advanced and Sweeney was intentionally walked to load the bases and Qualls was brought in to face Gutierrez.
Seattle came from behind for the 20th time this season, although none has been quite this odd.
"You should have seen me in the clubhouse. I was going crazy," Seattle starter Felix Hernandez said.
Arizona took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Reynolds tagged Hernandez for a two-run homer, his 19th shot this season. It was the only blemish on another strong start by Hernandez, who saw his scoreless innings streak end at 20 on Reynolds' homer.
Hernandez struck out eight and gave up just six hits. He has a 1.00 ERA in his last six starts. Mark Lowe (1-4) got the victory pitching the ninth for his first win since April 2008.
Doug Davis was nearly Hernandez's equal. He pitched seven innings, allowing just an RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth inning, one of three hits for the Mariners shortstop. Davis gave up seven hits and struck out three.
His chance at a win was lost in the eighth when Mike Carp scored on Guiterrez's fielder's choice.
"We take a punch in the gut time after time when we have opportunities to win the game and don't," Hinch said.
Notes: Suzuki recorded his 1,900th major league hit on a 70-foot roller down the first-base line. He sheepishly acknowledged the crowd with a tip of the cap when the milestone was displayed on the scoreboard.
Mariners C Kenji Johjima caught four innings on Saturday night at Triple-A Tacoma and manager Don Wakamatsu said Sunday that Johjima will likely be activated on the upcoming road trip that begins Friday in Los Angeles.
Arizona manager A.J. Hinch plans for CF Chris Young (groin) to return either Tuesday or Wednesday.