Washburn strong in beating Rangers
Left-hander exits in seventh inning with tightness in calf
SEATTLE -- Something wasn't right for Mariners lefty Jarrod Washburn before his start Monday against the Texas Rangers.But once he got into the game, not much went wrong as he threw six-plus strong innings in the Mariners' 7-3 victory. Richie Sexson and rookie Wladimir Balentien both stroked home runs as the Mariners broke a season-long five-game losing streak. The Mariners pounded out 10 hits, including a pair of doubles and two RBIs by Raul Ibanez. Jose Lopez and Kenji Johjima also had two hits apiece. Just before taking the field, Washburn strained his right calf warming up in the bullpen. He told pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre to watch him closely to make sure it didn't affect his delivery. "I told him, if I start doing something different, tell me," Washburn said. "When you're doing something different mechanically, that's when you wind up [hurting yourself]. So I just tried to pitch like normal." It was more like abnormal. He might have had the best six innings since he signed with the Mariners in 2006. Over the first six innings, he allowed just a two-out, third-inning single to German Duran. He walked none and struck out three. No doubt helped by rare early-run support, Washburn won for the first time at Safeco Field since June 29, 2007. The seven runs were the most scored behind him while he was on the mound since July 29, 2007, against Oakland. On his final pitch in the sixth inning, which turned into a double play groundout by Ian Kinsler, he tweaked the calf again. This time a little worse, tainting his effort and his numbers for the evening. ""I told Mel," Washburn said. "He said, 'Well, you think you can go?' And I said, 'I don't know. I'll let you know if I can't.' Like an idiot, I didn't let him know. I tried to pitch through it. It didn't work too well." He let everyone know by his actions on the mound. The first three hitters in the seventh went single, double, double. All three would eventually score and were charged to his total. Washburn was quickly removed, and his calf was tested by trainer Rick Griffin. Asked if Washburn's next start might be affected, manager John McLaren said, "No, not according to Rick. Everything seems to be a go. He tested him out and stuff. ... Whatever he was looking for was good." But Washburn wanted to wait to see how he feels Tuesday. He had this once before and is naturally cautious. "Hopefully, it's not as bad as a couple years ago when I did it," he said, "but it's in the same spot." He strained his right calf at the end of the 2006 season, also against Texas, missing his final two starts. "He had great tempo, as always, but more than that, he had great command on the outer part of the plate," catcher Johjima said of Washburn's effort. "He also got ahead on almost all first pitches." Sexson hit his 301st career home run in the third to dead center field, a 414-foot shot. Later in the inning, Balentien crushed his second home run since his promotion a week ago. It was a three-run home run over the left-field wall. Balentien was hitting just .167 entering the game, and, along with fellow rookie Jeff Clement, took some intensive extra batting practice before the game. "That's what I've been working on," Balentien said of his blast. "I try to let the ball come more deep to me and try to use all the fields." All seven runs came off Rangers starter Kevin Millwood (2-3), who worked just three innings. The seven runs were just two fewer than the Mariners had scored during their five-game losing streak. The Mariners hit just .215 with nine runs, six walks and 30 strikeouts during their just-completed 1-5 road trip. Closer J.J. Putz worked the ninth in a non-save situation. He struggled to put the Rangers away, allowing a single and double but induced Frank Catalanotto to end it with a foul popup to first. He didn't allow a run. Putz has a sore spot on the tip of his index finger that may be affecting him.
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.