SEATTLE — Nothing came easily for Seattle Mariners starter Aaron Harang on Saturday.
Even when he was holding the Minnesota Twins hitless over the first three innings, his pitch count kept steadily rising. By the time he finished the fifth, allowing one run on three hits, he’d already thrown 107 pitches.
The Twins added a few more runs, including homers by Brian Dozier and Justin Morneau, and the Mariners couldn’t muster any in losing 4-0.
“I happened to glance up at one point and saw how many pitches — I was kind of taken aback by how many pitches I had thrown,” Harang said. “I felt really good. I felt I was making some good pitches, but it definitely was a battle today. There was a lot of foul balls and a lot of close pitches that missed.”
Brad Miller and Kyle Seager each had two hits for Seattle, which has lost three of four.
Harang (5-9) struck out five and walked two in five innings, the ninth time in 17 starts this season he has gone five innings or less.
“His pitch count got up,” Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson said. “He was just over 100 pitches so it was time. He did his job.”
Seattle’s offense had an even harder time against Twins starter Samuel Deduno (7-4), who allowed three hits, walked three and tied his season high with six strikeouts. He has thrown seven innings in each of his last three starts, winning all three.
“You can see their hitters, there were balls they were swinging and then looking back trying to see where the ball went, and that tells you his ball’s really moving,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
In the rare cases where Seattle was able to put some men on base, the Twins’ defense came through for Deduno. In the fourth, Deduno walked two but a double play ended the inning. In the seventh, Gardenhire kept Deduno in even after he gave up a one-out single to Seager and walked Justin Smoak, and the confidence was rewarded when Deduno got Endy Chavez to ground into a double play.
“He’s got real life on his ball,” Thompson said. “He’s effectively wild at times, and he has really good stuff.”
It was the fifth shutout of the season for Minnesota, which has won four of its last six games and is 6-3 since the All Star break.
Morneau led off the fourth with a double for the Twins’ first hit. With one out, Chris Colabello hit a shallow pop fly to right field that fell between the Mariners’ defenders, and Morneau scored on Clete Thomas’ groundout, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
Reliever Charlie Furbush came on in the sixth inning. After getting two quick outs, Furbush gave up a single and walked two to load the bases. Yoervis Medina came on and walked Aaron Hicks to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Medina had more trouble in the seventh. Dozier led off the inning with his ninth home run and Morneau hit a solo shot with one out to knock Medina out of the game.
After not allowing any home runs in his first 36 appearances, Medina has given up three home runs in two games after also allowing a homer to Colabello on Friday night.
“He’ll be OK,” Thompson said. “I’d rather look at it the other way and say he’s only given up three. It just so happens it’s been in the last couple days. He’s done well and there are no red flags or concerns.”
It was the second loss in a row for Seattle. On Friday, the Twins scored in the ninth inning to tie the game and then went on to win 3-2 in 13 innings.
“We’ve had two hard-fought games,” Miller said. “Yesterday both teams were battling and the same today. It was a pitchers’ duel early. I thought we fought and that’s the biggest thing. We stayed in it and kept battling to the end.”
NOTES: The Seattle Mariners recalled RHP Brandon Maurer from Triple-A Tacoma before the game. “He’s going to go in the bullpen and probably be our long guy right now,” Thompson said. … Seattle also optioned RHP Hector Noesi to Tacoma. … Newly signed free agent C Humberto Quintero was the seventh different catcher to start for the Mariners this season. … The Twins are 10-5 against AL West teams and have won eight of their last 11 games against West teams.