SEATTLE (AP) — The last time Kendrys Morales hit a game-ending home run his celebration quickly turned into a nightmare.
After hitting a pinch-hit three-run homer in the 10th inning to give the Seattle Mariners a 6-3 win against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, Morales made sure he didn't make the same mistake.
It was the first game-winning home run for Morales since May 29, 2010, when as a member of the Angels he broke his ankle jumping onto home plate in celebration. The injury led to multiple operations and sidelined him for nearly two years.
This time, there was no final leap — with the mob of teammates surrounding home giving him plenty of space, Morales simply jogged to the plate before his teammates closed in to celebrate.
"That was a learning experience for me," Morales said through a translator. "I can't do that anymore, but I've got to celebrate this win."
Raul Ibanez started the game at designated hitter in place of Morales and hit a pair of home runs for his second multihomer game this season and 18th of his career.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge said before the game he wanted to give Morales a rest, saying, "We've pushed him hard and he's been struggling the last week."
Wedge told Morales not to start warming up for a possible late-inning appearance until at least the sixth inning.
"He was more than ready those last two or three innings," Wedge said. "I think he had his helmet on the last two innings ready to hit. he was chomping at the bit to get up there."
With one out in the 10th Mike Zunio struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. He advanced to third on Michael Saunders' single before Morales hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Grant Balfour (0-1) deep to right-center field. It was the Oakland closer's first loss since June 29, 2012.
"I wasn't expecting the call, I guess," Balfour said. "I guess I'm waiting for us to score to go in and save the game. So I didn't have the right mind frame going in, maybe."
Morales said he wasn't sure the ball was out until it landed, and Zunino also waited to be certain.
"I thought he did enough to do the job to hit a sac fly," Zunino said. "I was just sitting on third base — I wanted to see it land before I took off."
Right fielder Josh Reddick appeared to be far more sure, putting his head down and starting to jog off the field while the ball was still in the air.
Ibanez gave the Mariners the lead with a two-run homer in the first inning and added a solo shot in the third, his team-leading 17th and his third home run in two games.