Griffey gives Mariners win in 14 innings
Clutch hit overshadows performances by starters
SEATTLE -- Two of the best starting pitchers in the American League emerged from their post-All-Star Game funks on Wednesday night with a scoreless standoff that set the tone for a record-setting game at Safeco Field.What Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez did for seven innings and White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle did for eight continued well into extra innings. The longest scoreless game in Mariners franchise history ended in the bottom of the 14th inning when Ken Griffey Jr. delivered a pinch-hit walk-off single into the right-field corner that scored Adrian Beltre in Seattle's 1-0 victory before 24,427. The previous club record for longest scoreless game was 10 innings against the Yankees on April 24, 1993, at the Kingdome. "We stood the test of time, and our bullpen was a little better than theirs," Mariners designated hitter Mike Sweeney said. "It was a great team win and the best 0-for-6 I've ever had." This one had stellar pitching, terrific defense and a few blunders by both teams, including a pickoff of Chicago's Scott Podsednik at third base with one out in the 10th inning. "That is probably the best game I ever have been associated with as far as the pitching from both sides," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "That was an absolute battle." It was one scoreless inning after another, with each team escaping scoring threats. The clubs combined to go 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position, but only one of those hits mattered -- Griffey's hit off White Sox reliever Tony Pena with two outs and a 1-and-2 count in the 14th. "These guys battled all day," Griffey said. "The least I can do is give them a good at-bat." His hooking drive to right field landed several feet fair and took one hop off the wall. Beltre, aboard on a single and at second after a walk, coasted around third base for the Mariners' 28th one-run victory of the season and 60th overall. "Griffey said that if I had been a little smarter and gotten him into the game a little sooner, we could have all gone home earlier and had a nice dinner," Wakamatsu laughed. "A guy like him is made for the spotlight." Before Griffey delivered, the series finale was all about the pitching and defense. Nine of the 10 pitchers used in the tussle emerged without allowing a run. Right-hander Chris Jakubauskas, the fifth pitcher used by Wakamatsu, worked two innings and got the win. Pena, the fifth Sox hurler on the mound, faced five batters and took the loss. "They pitched real well," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They bring some arms out there to get you. It may be the best bullpen we've faced all year long." The tone for the night was set early by two starters who had been scuffling the past two weeks. Hernandez, a first-time All-Star, was 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in his past three outings. Buehrle was 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA since pitching a perfect game in his second start after the Midsummer Classic. Whatever had been bothering them was not evident, and they were at the top of their games when they needed it the most. Hernandez had to work a lot harder than Buehrle to keep his shutout going. Hernandez, who needed 105 pitches to make it through seven innings, extricated himself from a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, a second-and-third bind in the third and a first-and-third, no-out predicament in the seventh. "Felix really battled and got out of jams," Wakamatsu said. "He tweaked his calf in the [first inning], and it tightened up on him later. But I thought he had great stuff tonight." Hernandez, who struck out 10, saved his best Houdini act for last, using a strikeout and a double play to elude the toughest jam he encountered. Meanwhile, Buehrle kept the Mariners off the board for eight innings and 107 pitches. He dodged two jams, a second-and-third scenario in the seventh and a bases-loaded, one-out predicament in the eighth. Some of the most stressful pitches for Hernandez came in the second and third innings, when the White Sox put five runners on base. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the second inning before Hernandez struck out Jayson Nix to end the threat. All three outs in the inning came on strikeouts. The visitors had runners on second and third with two outs in the third when Carlos Quentin struck out for the second time. Two innings later, Hernandez was in another fix after Nix led off with a single to center, went to second on Scott Podsednik's bunt and to third on the second passed ball by Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. Alex Rios, playing his first game for the White Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays, hit a medium-deep fly to right field. Eight-time Gold Glove-winner Ichiro Suzuki put himself in a good throwing position after making the catch, and he delivered a one-hop throw to Johnson, who tagged out Nix. Buehrle, meanwhile, faced the minimum number of batters through four innings, but he didn't have a perfect game. Beltre dropped a one-out single into center field in the second inning, but he was picked off first. Beltre singled again in the fifth, but he never budged. Ichiro reached second on a two-out double in the sixth. Seattle's offensive exasperations came during the latter stages of the game. Besides the seventh- and eighth-inning threats against Buehrle, the Mariners had runners on the corners with one out in the 12th. Johnson ripped a ball down the first-base line, only to have Mark Kotsay make a diving catch and turn it into an inning-ending double play.
Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson aggravated his left hamstring and departed after the third inning. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.