DETROIT — Robinson Cano homered, James Paxton won his sixth consecutive decision to start his career and the surging Seattle Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers 7-2 Friday night in a matchup of American League playoff contenders.
Paxton (3-0) pitched six innings, allowing one run and five hits, to help Seattle win its fifth straight and ninth in 11 games. Cano and Logan Morrison each scored twice for the Mariners, who jumped a half-game ahead of Detroit in the race for the second AL wild card.
The Tigers began the day a half-game behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
Rick Porcello (13-8) struggled badly in his first appearance since pitching the final three innings of Detroit’s 19-inning loss in Toronto on Sunday. After a five-start stretch in which he had a 1.75 ERA, the 25-year-old righty gave up six runs — five earned — and 10 hits in six innings. He didn’t walk a batter, but struck out only three.
Seattle jumped out to a quick three-run lead in the second.
Following a leadoff single and a hit batter, Morrison and Endy Chavez each hit an RBI single. Chris Taylor bunted for a single, loading the bases with none out, but ex-Tiger Austin Jackson grounded into a double play, helping Porcello to escape only down 3-0.
An inning earlier, Jackson received a long standing ovation when he led off his first game at Comerica Park since the trade-deadline deal that sent him to Seattle and brought ace pitcher David Price to the Tigers.
Cano made it 4-0 with a long homer on the first pitch of the third.
After the Tigers got on the board in the bottom half, Taylor restored the four-run lead with an RBI single in the fourth.
Mariners: OF Michael Saunders (oblique) resumed his rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma after missing time for the birth of his child. In five games with Tacoma, he was hitting .353 with a .542 on-base percentage.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander (shoulder) isn’t scheduled to pick up a baseball until Tuesday, when he will try some short tossing. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Verlander’s schedule will be based entirely on how he feels then, but the hope is still that he will start next Friday in Minnesota.
The Tigers and Mariners square off again Saturday night with a marquee pitching matchup. Price (11-8) will make his third start for Detroit, and Seattle counters with Felix Hernandez (12-3).
Hernandez, who made his major league debut at Comerica Park, is 9-0 in his last 11 starts against the Tigers, but will be facing Price for the first time.