Ichiro hits No. 3,000, but Mariners fall
Putz can't hold on to ninth-inning lead in Arlington
ARLINGTON -- The two-closer approach Mariners manager Jim Riggleman has been using to win games since the return of J.J. Putz still remains a work in progress.One night after Brandon Morrow needed 23 pitches to nail down a victory over the Rangers, Riggleman handed the ball to Putz on Tuesday night, counting on the right-hander to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and secure one of the most improbable wins of the season. The Mariners had rallied from a seven-run deficit and grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the ninth, when pinch-runner Jarrod Washburn scored on a throwing error. But Putz, one of the most reliable door-slammers in the American League last season, surrendered three hits to the four batters he faced, including a walk-off, two-run double to Ramon Vazquez, sending Seattle to an 11-10 loss in front of 17,618 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "It just seems like we have been involved in so many games like this, that are decided in the ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th inning, or whatever," Riggleman said. "There were a lot of things about that game to be really happy about, but there are things to be disappointed about, [too], and I am disappointed." One of the positive things was the spunk displayed during the middle and late innings of the game. Starting pitcher Carlos Silva, pushed back several days because of tightness in his lower back, threw free and easy for three innings. And the Rangers had a good time of it, scoring two runs in the second and five in the third to bolt to a seven-run lead. Seattle (40-66) began its comeback with three runs in the fourth inning with five consecutive two-out singles, but was down, 9-3, after five innings. A three-run outburst in the sixth cut the six-run gap in half, and the Mariners' first back-to-back home runs of the season -- courtesy of Jose Lopez and Bryan LaHair in the seventh -- cut the deficit to one run. In the ninth, the Mariners scored two more runs to grab a 10-9 lead. Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a single to left-center field, his 3,000th career hit between his time in Japan and with the Mariners.
Another of the game's highlights came when Washburn came home with the go-ahead run following Vazquez's throwing error on a run-scoring infield single by Mariners catcher Jamie Burke. The most memorable moment, however, occurred when Washburn emerged from the third-base dugout with a belt in his hands."I was sitting on the bench, and I never wear a belt, my spikes or even my jersey," he said. "When I heard 'Wash', I ran up to the clubhouse, put on my jersey and spikes, and ran back to the dugout. Someone said I forgot my belt, and [Riggelman] gave me his." Washburn ran for Kenji Johjima, who was unable to continue after being hit on his left leg by a pitch. Washburn said it was the first time in his career he has been used as pinch-runner. "I can run," he quipped. He got a chance to show it off, too, when after moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt, Burke hit a ball that Vazquez knocked down and then threw away at first. Burke ended up at third base, representing an insurance run. Riggleman flashed the suicide squeeze bunt sign to third-base coach Sam Perlozzo, who relayed it to Burke and the batter, Yuiniesky Betancourt. The result was a missed bunt attempt, and Burke was tagged out for the second out of the inning. "I don't know what to say," Riggleman said. "[Betancourt] got a good pitch to do it with, and whiffed it. You saw it." That extra run would have come in handy for Putz, who still hasn't regained the form that enabled him to convert 40 of 42 save attempts last season. He received his fourth loss and fifth blown save in 12 save chances. "I'm not talking," he said. "He's just not totally there," Riggleman said. "That's a good hitting ballclub, and they got him." It was the second time in the past two seasons here that Vazquez "got" Putz. In a game here on July 25, 2007, Putz entered a game in the eighth inning with the Mariners leading by one run, needing four outs to record his 28th consecutive save in his up-to-then perfect season. Vazquez hit a two-run homer, stunning the Mariners, and Putz in particular. "These losses are tough to take," Riggleman said. "Guys are agonizing and they had better be. If you don't agonize over these losses, you shouldn't be wearing a uniform."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.