Balentien breaks out of slump as Vargas drives Mariners' rout of D-backs

SEATTLE -- No matter if Seattle's Wladimir Balentien came up with the game-ending catch or not, his day was already a success.

He recorded his first multihit game in more than a month, including his first homer in nearly two months as the Mariners beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 Saturday night.

Oh, and he made that last highlight grab, too.

Balentien planted his foot in the short wall down the left-field line, made a leaping effort to try and snag the foul pop among a sea of fans, and came up with the ball.

For at least one game, Balentien showed the progress the Mariners have been waiting for.

"It's a great opportunity for me right now to get a couple of more at-bats every day and I've been putting in a lot of work," Balentien said. "It's a great opportunity for me right now to show everybody all the hard work I was putting in."

Balentien's first homer since April 25 backed up Jason Vargas' seven stellar innings as Seattle won for the fourth time in five games.

Vargas retired 17 straight batters at one point and stayed in long enough for Mike Sweeney's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh that broke a 2-2 tie.

Vargas (3-2), a piece of the three-team, 12-player trade general manager Jack Zduriencik pulled off during last year's winter meetings, again displayed the talent that'll likely keep him part of Seattle's future plans. He kept the Diamondbacks' bats silent after Justin Upton's single in the first until Upton homered leading off the seventh.

The young lefty missed all of last season following hip surgery but bounced back after getting rocked for seven earned runs and 12 hits in his last start in Colorado.

Against Arizona, Vargas allowed just three hits, one earned run and struck out four. Other than Upton's single in the first and his 13th homer in the seventh, the only hit Vargas allowed was a leadoff single by Felipe Lopez to start the game.

"I don't think I shook [catcher] Rob [Johnson] one time tonight," Vargas said. "I think there has only been a few times where I've shook him. To keep the pace of the game going and stay in that rhythm is huge for us."

Balentien's performance came on the day Seattle found out it will be minus outfielder Endy Chavez for the rest of the season after he injured his right knee in a violent collision with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt on Friday night.

Before the game, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu wondered if Balentien would take advantage of the opportunity, or if the organization would need to look for another outfield option.

For one night, Balentien showed he's serious. He singled in the second inning, then caught up to Arizona starter Billy Buckner's high fastball on an 0-2 count, driving a solo homer into the outfield bullpen in the fourth.

It was Balentien's second homer of the season. He started the day hitting .223 and had just six hits in his previous 50 at-bats. His last multihit game came on May 15.

His catch of Miguel Montero's foul ball along the wall in left to end the game was simply the capper.

"We talked about it earlier about him stepping up a little bit and I thought he had a great game both offensively and defensively," Wakamatsu said.

Buckner (2-4) struck out a career-high seven for Arizona, but lost his third straight. He gave up nine hits and four earned runs, letting the lead slip away in the seventh.

Tied 2-all, Betancourt and Ichiro Suzuki opened the seventh with singles and Russell Branyan was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sweeney hit a one-out fly to deep left field to easily score Suzuki with the go-ahead run, and Franklin Gutierrez then dribbled a single to center to score Branyan.

"We didn't offer much help offensively for [Buckner] and things got away late," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said.

Betancourt added some insurance in the eighth with a two-run double off the center field wall to score Chris Woodward and Johnson, who slid over Betancourt's bat to score.

Sean White pitched the eighth, but gave up an RBI single to Upton in the ninth. David Aardsma got out of the jam for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Game notes
Branyan grounded into his first double play of the season in the eighth, but Betancourt scored on the play. ... Suzuki gathered another three hits and is hitting .352. ... Washington's men's crew team that won the national rowing championships earlier this month was honored before the game and threw out the first pitch.