Washburn hit hard as Mariners fall
Rally comes up short after left-hander allows nine runs
DETROIT -- Left-hander Jarrod Washburn returned to the Mariners' starting rotation on Wednesday night and it was like he never left.After being skipped for one start following a rocky outing against the White Sox at Safeco Field on May 10 -- he surrendered seven earned runs in five innings -- Washburn was back on the hill at Comerica Park for the second game of a three-game series against the Tigers. This one was even rockier than the last. Washburn lasted 2 1/3 innings, surrendered two runs in the second inning, seven runs in the third, and absorbed the loss in Seattle's 9-4 setback to Detroit in front of 36,495. Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and first baseman Richie Sexson hit solo home runs for the Mariners, who lost for the ninth time in their last 10 road games and fell 11 games under .500 for the first time this season. The month of May has been especially brutal for Seattle's starting pitchers. They have a combined record of 3-12 and a composite 7.27 ERA in May, compared to a 10-10 record and 3.65 ERA in April. All this from a five-man rotation that Mel Stottlemyre called "potentially" the best he has worked with during his 20-plus seasons as a Major League pitching coach. "To have guys of this caliber struggling as much as some of them have has got me baffled," Stottlemyre said. "It's hard to explain. We can't seem to get going as a rotation. We get a couple of well-pitched games and you think we're on our way, and then run into a game like tonight (or Tuesday night) where the starter gets beat up pretty good and we have to go to the bullpen early." The last time Seattle (18-29) had back-to-back wins from its starters was April 16-17 against the Athletics in Oakland. It extended the Mariners' winning streak to three games, which remains the high-water mark for the season. "It seems like we're behind the eight-ball almost every night," manager John McLaren said. "When you're behind, 9-1 ... it's not good." The eight-ball arrived early on Wednesday night. The first five batters in the third inning reached base on singles and the station-to-station march netted the Tigers two runs. And then one swing from Marcus Thames produced four runs via a grand slam. An ensuing triple and single produced the seventh -- and final -- run of the inning, and Washburn departed. "I had good stuff and made some good pitches," Washburn (2-6, 6.99 ERA) said. "I never look at video, but came into the clubhouse and watched it. The pitch to Thames was a mistake; it came back and got too much of the plate. "But every other hit they got that inning was on a ball. I knew they were going to be aggressive, because that's the way they were [Tuesday night]. I wanted to throw good pitches early in the count and I did that, but they still found holes." The Tigers came out swinging, and connecting. Of the 43 strikes Washburn threw, only two of them were swung on and missed. "I thought Jarrod made some decent pitches, but a couple of balls found holes," McLaren said. "He wanted to stay out there. He said, 'Let me wear it', and I told him he had worn it enough."
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Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.