Mariners rally falls short

  • By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, April 20, 2011 2:57pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE — Manager Eric Wedge told the newest Seattle Mariner, rookie outfielder Carlos Peguero, to have fun and go to the plate swinging Wednesday in the first start of his major league career.

Peguero did just that, although there was hardly anything fun with the way his day — and the Mariners’ — ended at Safeco Field.

Peguero, a 24-year-old who’s one of the organization’s top power-hitting prospects, went 0-for-4 and struck out three times with runners in scoring position. That included his final at-bat with the potential tying run at second base before Detroit closer Jose Valverde struck him out to finish a 3-2 Tigers victory.

Fun?

“At the beginning of the game, yeah,” Peguero said. “But we lost, and I don’t think anybody had fun. We are teammates and we have to be together.”

Like Peguero, the Mariners had their chances throughout the game but managed to score just twice. Ichiro Suzuki’s two-out single in the third inning scored Jack Wilson and Adam Kennedy homered leading off the bottom of the ninth.

Both times the Mariners cut into a two-run lead by the Tigers, but they couldn’t get any closer.

The biggest opportunity came in the fourth inning after Kennedy and Jack Cust rolled singles into right field off Tigers starter Rick Porcello, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.

The Mariners, whose nine sacrifice bunts entering Wednesday ranked fourth in the American League, weren’t playing for one run so early in the game. Michael Saunders struck out, Luis Rodriguez flied out and Peguero, who’d flied out to deep left field in the third inning, struck out on a 91 mph fastball by Porcello.

Behind 3-1 in the seventh, opportunity stood on third base with one out after Rodriguez walked and reached third on two Porcello wild pitches. Porcello struck out Peguero and, after the Tigers brought in right-hander Ryan Perry, Wilson also struck out to end that inning.

Then the ninth happened.

Kennedy drove a chest-high fastball from Valverde into the right-field seats for his first home run and a 3-2 score. After Cust struck out, Saunders pushed an opposite-field double into the left-field corner to put the Mariners in a good position to tie the score again with one out.

Milton Bradley, pinch-hitting for Rodriguez, struck out looking at a knee-high, outside-corner fastball from Valverde for the second out. Peguero struck out, swinging as Wedge had told him before the game, to end the game. The Mariners finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“We had some opportunities but I really felt like they pitched a pretty good ballgame,” Wedge said. “Porcello pitched a good ballgame and their bullpen did a fantastic job. They pitched us pretty tough.”

The Mariners weren’t so bad from the mound themselves.

Erik Bedard, in the fourth start of his comeback from shoulder surgery, allowed five hits, five walks (tying a career high) and three runs in five innings. The Tigers had baserunners in every inning — including the leadoff man in the third, fourth and fifth — but Bedard was dinged only by Ryan Raburn’s solo home run in the first inning, Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single in the third and Brennan Boesch’s RBI single in the fifth.

Bedard called it a step forward after he’d allowed seven hits and four earned runs in 42⁄3 innings of his previous start.

“I got five innings, so that was a step forward,” Bedard said. “It’ll probably take time. Just take it a step at a time and work hard. Hopefully next time I’ll get six innings.”

Mariners reliever David Pauley was the most impressive pitcher of the day, allowing one hit in the final four innings. That didn’t come until Austin Jackson’s one-out single in the ninth after Pauley had retired 10 straight.

“I wanted to keep the ball down, throw a lot of strikes, let my stuff work and throw as few pitches as possible,” Pauley said. “When everything’s working right, it kind of flows together.”

Pauley has a 1.50 ERA in six relief appearances.

“Thirty-two pitches and four innings out of the bullpen up here is a special feat,” Wedge said. “He gave us every opportunity to come back.”

Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog and follow his Twitter updates on the team at @kirbyarnold.

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