Mariners' bullpen does the job vs. A's
Lopez's three-run double the big blow after Batista's injury
OAKLAND -- A rested bullpen, courtesy of back-to-back complete games, came in handy for the Mariners on Wednesday night. A couple of breaks and timely hits during a one-inning scoring barrage also were sights for sore eyes.Second baseman Jose Lopez drove in three of Seattle's five runs in the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki contributed one of his three singles to the rally, moving him closer to the 3,000-hit mark in his professional career, and Raul Ibanez scored a run despite being tagged before he made contact with home plate as the Mariners ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory over the Athletics in front of 21,126 at McAfee Coliseum. The Mariners overcame a three-run deficit and closer Brandon Morrow remained perfect in save situations. Good things, all. But there was some bad to go along with the good, specifically a "tweak" starting pitcher Miguel Batista felt in his right groin area when he faced his first batter in the third inning, forcing him into an early departure. "I think that's the fourth time since I have been managing here that we've had a starter go out with an injury," said interim manager Jim Riggleman, who replaced John McLaren on June 20. "Our bullpen has finished up and done the job every time, but you can't depend on that happening every time." With a one-inning exception, the Mariners' bullpen was at the top of its game. Right-hander Roy Corcoran surrendered one hit over 2 2/3 scoreless innings and won his first Major League game. Left-hander Arthur Rhodes retired all four batters he faced, right-hander Sean Green contributed two big outs in the eighth inning, and Morrow retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth for his eighth save in eight save chances. "They were outstanding," Riggleman said of the relievers. "At the same time, Miguel was really throwing the ball well. He was firing and didn't have any issues with his back or anything." Batista retired six of the first seven batters he faced and went to work in the third behind, 1-0, because of a leadoff home run to Jack Cust in the second. Batista's return to the starting rotation ended after three pitches to the first batter in the third. "We don't think it's anything serious, but it was only going to get worse if we left him in there," Riggleman said. Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith came in and pitched a scoreless third inning, but never made it out of the fourth as Oakland scored three runs. The big blow was a one-out, double by Donnie Murphy that scored three and ended with Jack Hannahan bowling over Mariners catch Jeff Clement. Hannahan appeared to be shaken up more on the crash than Clement, who later said it was a "clean play" and collisions like that come with the territory. "I was happy the play was out in front of me," Clement said. "If it had been come from right field, he could have blindsided me. I could see him lower his shoulder, but the throw [from left field] was a split-second late and I never had [the ball]. I never saw the replay, but it seemed like a clean play." Whether or not the way Clement hung in there and took the punishment lit a fire in the visiting dugout, the Mariners counter-punched in the top of the fifth inning against Oakland starter Joe Blanton. Seattle loaded the bases with one out on a hit batter and back-to-back singles by Yuniesky Betancourt and Ichiro -- the All-Star outfielder's 2,986th career hit. Lopez, who said he was expecting a first-pitch breaking ball from Blanton, got a hanging one and drilled it into left field. All three runners scored, tying the game at 4, and Ibanez followed with a double to left to make it 5-4. One out later, third baseman Adrian Beltre hit a shot near the first-base line that Athletics first baseman Daric Barton knocked down. Barton had no play on Beltre, but noticed that Ibanez was halfway between third and home -- and threw the ball behind the runner. That gave Ibanez a chance to try to score, which he did on a close play at the plate. Replays showed that Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki tagged Ibanez's leg before his foot hit the plate, but the runner was called safe, giving Seattle a two-run lead.
The five-run fifth inning matched the number of runs the team had scored in its previous 37 innings.The bullpen, which has been sensational of late, retired 17 of the last 19 batters it faced. Corcoran worked around a leadoff double to Kurt Suzuki in the sixth, getting two fly-ball outs and a groundout before turning the game over to Rhodes in the seventh. "It feels good, real good," Corcoran said of his first big league win. "I was up and down in '03, '04, and '06 and never got one. It feels good to finally have one. But it's a better feeling to win the game. We played two tough games against these guys the past two nights and duked it out again tonight." Corcoran received a shaving cream pie in the face from injured closer J.J. Putz during his postgame interview, but never received the actual game ball to mark the occasion. "I will probably just pick out one and call it the game ball," he said. "That's pretty much what everyone does anyway." As for Batista, Riggleman said the 37-year-old, who has had numerous aches and pains this season, would not pitch again before the All-Star break. "I hope we can get this behind him and he will be in the rotation coming out of the break," Riggleman said. "He and the trainer [Rick Griffin] didn't think it was too serious. We will work out [next Thursday] and test it out."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.