Rookie Clement homers in final two at bats to help M's tame Tigers

SEATTLE (AP) -- Never in college, and not in the minors. The last time Jeff Clement was asked to take a curtain call: high school.

"It's been a while," he said.

Clement took a deserved stroll up the dugout steps to acknowledge the roaring fans on Saturday night. Seattle's rookie catcher homered in his final two at-bats, the second a two-run shot off Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney in the eighth inning that lifted the Mariners to a 3-2 win over the Tigers.

His first homer off Detroit starter Armando Galarraga in the sixth snapped an 0-for-11 slide, and Clement's second blast assured Seattle of its first winning homestand of more than five games all season. Throw in his block of the plate that saved a run in the fifth inning, and Saturday was arguably Clement's best performance in his 37 major league games.

His reward -- the curtain call, followed by a stinging shaving cream pie from clubhouse prankster J.J. Putz.

"It's just good to have some plays that were good for the club," Clement said, still wiping shaving cream off his face.

Clement was all the offense the Mariners got on a night where all five runs came via the long ball, and Seattle missed numerous chances against Galarraga.

But Detroit's rookie pitching star was spectating when Richie Sexson walked with one out in the eight against Rodney (0-2). Pinch-runner Miguel Cairo stole second and on the next pitch, Clement jumped on a change up, sending the two-run shot 395-feet into the right field stands.

Brandon Morrow then pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save, as Seattle has won nine of 12.

"To play that way against (Detroit) should be a message for our players to be able to start absorbing that we can compete with people if we just go out there in that mind-set," Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said.

Miguel Batista (4-10) pitched two innings in relief of Seattle start R.A. Dickey to get the victory.

Carlos Guillen and Miguel Cabrera provided the offense for Detroit, each hitting solo homers, but all of Detroit's runs in the last two games have come from home runs. Cabrera hit a solo shot on Friday for the Tigers only run in a 4-1 loss.

"We didn't swing the bats worth [anything]," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Still, the two solo homers seemed like enough offense for Galarraga, who skirted trouble for most of the night and was in line for his eighth win of the season before Clement's heroics. Galarraga scattered five hits in his six innings, striking out two and walking three.

Galarraga was challenged numerous times by Seattle's offense, only to record key outs at the right times. Seattle moved runners into scoring position three times against the Tigers' rookie, only to see those runners never advance further.

In the second and third innings, Seattle put runners on first and second with one out and failed to advance either runner. Ichiro Suzuki led off the third with a single and Jose Lopez walked, but Ibanez popped out to right, Jose Vidro weakly grounded back to the mound and Adrian Beltre struck out.

In the fifth, Beltre grounded out with Lopez and Ibanez standing on second and third. Beltre hit another ground ball to end the seventh with Lopez again at third. Seattle left 11 runners total.

Those struggles didn't matter at the end thanks to Clement.

"His history tells you he's hit the ball out of the ball park everywhere he's played, [and] eventually he's going to hit something out of the ball park here," Riggleman said of Clement.

Dickey again got little offensive help. In four of his last five starts, the Mariners have failed to score more than one run while the knuckleballer has been on the mound. Dickey went six innings, allowing four hits and walked five.

Detroit had a chance to extend its lead and likely knock out Dickey in the fifth. With runners on first and second and one out, Placido Polanco singled into left. Dane Sardinha, who was running on the pitch from second, was sent home by Tigers' third base coach Gene Lamont.

Raul Ibanez made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate where Clement blocked Sardinha's slide as the ball arrived, keeping it a two-run game.

The play at home highlighted a superb defensive night by the Mariners outfield. Center fielder Jeremy Reed went crashing into the wall in the first to track down a drive by Cabrera, then sprawled to make a diving grab of Edgar Renteria's liner in the seventh. Ibanez also made a sliding grab in left field in the third.

Game notes
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said C/INF Brandon Inge is targeted to return from a pulled oblique muscle right after the All-Star break. ... Second-round draft pick Dennis Raben, who signed with Seattle earlier this week, homered in his first professional at-bat on Friday night with Class-A Everett.