Sometimes one hit is all it takes, and that's what the Seattle Mariners are hoping heading into their series finale Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
Struggling to get clutch hits, Norichika Aoki delivered one in the form of a two-out, two-run triple in the second inning. Taijuan Walker and three relievers made it stand as the Mariners (6-8) evened this three-game set with a 2-1 win Wednesday night.
''We needed one and we got one,'' said manager Scott Servais of his team's only hit in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position in this series. ''It was huge. We were due for one, a big two-out hit.''
Delivering in such situations has been a struggle thus far for Seattle, which is batting .186 (8 for 43) with runners in scoring position with two outs and .190 overall with runners in scoring position. Aoki's triple was the last hit for the Mariners on Wednesday, highlighting an offense still scuffling with a .211 average and more strikeouts (116) than hits (100).
Despite those woes, the Mariners have a chance to win their first three road series in a season since 2002.
Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.50) looks to help reach that milestone while building on a solid outing in which he limited the New York Yankees to a solo homer and four other hits in a 7-1 road victory Friday. He struck out seven but walked four in five innings, quickly reaching 101 pitches before being lifted.
''Karns hung in there,'' Servais said. ''Tight-roped a little bit.''
Catcher Chris Iannetta observed the right-hander is still trying to find a comfort zone with the Mariners, noting to MLB's official website Karns' last outing was "off-speed dominant."
Karns split two starts in an uneven fashion against the Indians last year with Tampa Bay, giving up only three runs despite allowing 15 hits in 11 1/3 innings. His win came at Progressive Field on June 19 after yielding one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-1 victory.
Jason Kipnis has proven to be a tough out, going 4 for 6 with two doubles against Karns.
Cleveland (6-6) has alternated wins and losses in its last six games and turns to Cody Anderson (0-1, 5.91) to extend that to seven. The right-hander is trying to bounce back after being roughed up by the New York Mets, who hit three homers off him in beating him 6-5 on Friday. He was reached for five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings as his personal five-game winning streak dating back to last year ended.
''There is no excuse for the way I pitched. I felt great coming into the game,'' said Anderson, who struck out five. ''A few of my pitches were up, and they definitely didn't miss them. In the past, that's been a struggle for me, just keeping the ball down, but I'm going into my next start with my head up.''
Lonnie Chisenhall could make his second start after going 0 for 3 in his season debut. The right fielder started the season on the disabled list with a wrist injury.
The Indians are trying to salvage a split of their six-game homestand before embarking on a nine-game road trip that makes stops in Detroit, Minnesota and Philadelphia.