CLEVELAND (AP) — Robbie Ray started September the way he finished August with six solid innings as the Seattle Mariners won their sixth straight, 4-0 on Saturday night over the slumping Cleveland Guardians.
The AL Central-leading Guardians lost their fourth in a row and have been shut out in three of them.
Ray (12-8), who won the AL Cy Young Award last year, was one of the league’s top pitchers last month, going 3-0 in five starts. The left-hander allowed six hits, but not a costly one. He pitched seven scoreless innings against Cleveland in a win last week.
Seattle’s bullpen combined to finish the shutout with Matt Brash, Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald working one inning apiece.
Mariners first baseman Ty France homered in the first inning off rookie Xzavion Curry (0-1), who struggled with control in his second career start and was pulled in the fifth after walking the bases loaded.
Seattle, trying to end a 20-season playoff drought, currently holds one of the AL’s three wild-card spots and has won 13 of 17.
The Guardians are flat and futile at the plate.
They’ve scored just one run in their last four games. They’ve been shut out four times in six games — five in their last 10.
Fortunately for the Guardians, they still lead the division by one game over Minnesota, which was beaten 13-0 by the suddenly surging Chicago White Sox.
The Guardians put together two threats against Ray, but he was able to work out of them both times — retiring rookie Tyler Freeman twice.
After giving up a pair of singles in the third, Ray got Freeman to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Then with runners at first and third and two outs in the fifth, Ray struck out Freeman with All-Star José Ramírez waiting on deck.
France put the Mariners up 1-0 just seven pitches into the game with his 18th homer, a towering shot onto the pedestrian plaza in left field.
Seattle added an unearned run in the second, set up by two walks and fielding error, when Curry walked Mitch Haniger with the bases full to force in a run. The Mariners, however, blew a chance for a big inning when Eugenio Suárez lined to third.
Curry couldn’t find the plate in the fifth, walking three straight before manager Terry Francona took the ball. Cal Raleigh then delivered an RBI single off Nick Sandlin, who walked J.P. Crawford to put the Mariners up 4-0.
Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (broken hand) will be re-examined in one week. Dr. Thomas Graham concurred with the team’s diagnosis of a non-displaced fracture and suggested Plesac kept his hand immobilized in a splint. Plesac got hurt when he punched the ground in frustration after giving up a homer in Seattle last week.
Mariners: RHP George Kirby (6-3, 3.16 ERA) was the AL’s Rookie of the Month for August, going 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts. Kirby has walked one or fewer batters in each of his 19 starts, the longest streak to begin a career in history.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (11-5, 3.50) is unbeaten since July 5 — a span of 10 starts — and has been Cleveland’s most dependable starter. He’s 12-0 in 39 career games at Progressive Field and has gone 31 straight home starts without a loss.