By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Regardless the hope that Erik Bedard brought in his return to the mound Tuesday night, there was a good chance the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen would determine the game against the Baltimore Orioles.
It did, and for the second straight time the relief wasn’t pretty in a 12-4 loss at Safeco Field. The Orioles scored four runs in the sixth inning and six in the seventh.
“We had a good ballgame going and then the wheels fell off,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “In two innings, the game basically was out of control. Until then, we had a pretty good game going.”
Bedard did his part, even though he was shaky early and allowed two first-inning runs. He retired the final 10 hitters he faced and the only thing that got to him was his pitch count. Limited to no more than 80 after 29 days on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, he was finished after throwing 72 pitches through four innings.
“He had good stuff,” Wakamatsu said. “But he threw a lot of pitches that first inning and that kept him to four innings. I thought he had better command in his (simulated) game the other day, but he threw some awfully good breaking balls tonight and there were some good signs.”
Besides, when Bedard left the game, the Mariners led 3-2 on Franklin Gutierrez’s three-run homer in the first inning.
Then, before anyone could say Jarrod Washburn Gem, the game was gone. The bullpen brought back a memory much different than Washburn’s one-hitter Monday night.
This one rekindled the ill spirit of Sunday’s game at Boston, the last time Wakamatsu used his bullpen. Miguel Batista and Mark Lowe transformed a one-run Mariners lead into an 8-4 loss to the Red Sox in that one.
The victims this time were Chris Jakubauskas, Shawn Kelley and Roy Corcoran.
Jakubauskas followed Bedard and pitched around a leadoff single in the fifth, but couldn’t get more than one out in the sixth before the Orioles popped him with three hits, an intentional walk and four runs for a 6-3 lead.
“The success of our staff has been based on how aggressive we are,” Wakamatsu said. “Jak, in that sixth inning, came out and tried to protect the lead. I thought he should have challenged them more.”
Kelley, in his second outing since nearly two months on the disabled list, gave up a single and an inning-ending double play to get out of the sixth but was stung hard in the seventh. The Orioles got him for three hits, two walks and five runs. One of those scored when Luke Scott hit a two-run homer off the Mariners’ next reliever, Corcoran.
“Kelley is going to be a big part of our bullpen and we’ve got to get him out there pitching,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s gong to be fine.”
Corcoran took the aggressive route with a first-pitch fastball but all it got the Mariners was a deeper deficit — 12-3 when Scott homered. Otherwise, Corcoran was effective. He got two ground-ball outs to end the seventh and pitched around a walk in the eighth, getting a double play to end that one.
The reliever of the night was Orioles left-hander Mark Hendrickson, the Mount Vernon native in his eighth major league season.
He took over for struggling starter Jeremy Guthrie with one out in the third inning and shut down the Mariners through the fifth. Hendrickson gave up only Ronny Cedeno’s bunt single in the fourth and Jose Lopez’s one-out double in the fifth and pulled his record to 4-4.
Looking for something positive from the Mariners?
There’s Bedard, who stumbled early but dominated the Orioles the rest of his abbreviated time on the mound. Wakamatsu said he’ll be expected to throw 90 pitches Sunday against the Rangers.
There also was Sean White, who pitched a perfect ninth and showed his best stuff since coming back from some soreness in his right arm during the recent road trip.
And Ken Griffey Jr. beat the Orioles’ shift in the eighth inning by grounding a ball into left field and turning it into a double. He stumbled slightly after rounding first, but slid into second base with his 514th career double to tie former Mariner Edgar Martinez for 39th place on baseball’s all-time doubles list.
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com\marinersblog