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04/14/07 3:00 AM ET
Mariners fall in return to Safeco Field
Sexson, Beltre pick up RBI doubles behind Washburn
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners would prefer not use it as excuse, but the team's peculiar weather-battered week on the East Coast does have its consequences. Look no further than Friday's 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, in his first start in 10 days, tried to hold on through his six-inning, 99-pitch effort, but he tired at the end. The Mariners' hitters, with a rusty, league-low .187 team batting average, couldn't muster enough offensive support. "I don't think it helped," said first baseman Richie Sexson, on the trip in which five of the seven games were postponed. "We all kind of had our swings going coming out of Spring Training and had five days [in Cleveland] where we didn't play. We played again on the sixth day, then lost another one in Boston. "So we're all trying to get our feet wet again here." But there is some debate over how much impact the layoff should have. "That's behind us now. I think, from a team perspective, we just have to move on and move ahead," said left fielder Raul Ibanez, who collected his 200th career double in the first inning. "We're going to be fine. We did fine tonight, but we just came up short. "To make it an excuse is not what this club is about. We're going to grind through it." Washburn (0-1) tried to grind through and with a little better fortune it might have worked for him. Washburn, who was snowed out in Cleveland and rained out in Boston, was tagged for a couple cheap runs in the third. With one out, Matt Kata on second and Jerry Hairston Jr. on first, Ian Kinsler bounced a grounder to the left of third baseman Adrian Beltre. He had to dive and spin on the ball. He came up awkwardly and threw wide of first. Kata came around to score while Hairston took third. Michael Young followed with an apparent double-play bouncer back to Washburn. But Washburn threw behind Yuniesky Betancourt covering second. Betancourt managed to tag the bag but couldn't get enough mustard on the throw to first. Young was safe and Hairston scored. "On that one, I was on the side of the mound, went to throw it and my foot came out from underneath me," Washburn said. "I'm pretty happy it was anywhere near enough for Yuni to get a glove on it. Got exactly what I wanted there, with Young hitting the ground ball, but messed it up with bad footing." In the fifth, Kinsler hit his fifth home run, a two-run shot, off Washburn for a 4-0 score. It was his 28th at-bat this season. Washburn said the pitch that hurt the most that inning with a 0-2 fastball to Hairston, who rapped a single to center. "I don't make that 0-2 pitch to Hairston, then the home run wouldn't have happened," Washburn said. "But I left it up, and it got too much of the plate." Manager Mike Hargrove, who didn't dwell on the layoff pretext, said that it looked like Washburn "got tired a little quicker than he thought he would, had he not had the layoff. But he pitched well enough to win." Washburn admitted that "I didn't feel near as strong as I thought I would" but said it wasn't much different than a normal-rest start. "Mentally, the biggest change was preparing for three different teams for one start," he added. "But you play the cards you're dealt. You can't play if they don't let you. Weather is weather." Rangers righty Kevin Millwood (2-1) earned the victory as he gave up one run on seven hits in his six innings. The Mariners had a couple chances to upset Millwood's rhythm. In the first, Jose Vidro stroked a two-out single. Ibanez then ripped his double down the right-field line. Vidro was held at third. Sexson, loading up and flaying, struck out on a 72-mph changeup. In the fifth, Kenji Johjima, who had three hits, and Betancourt opened with singles but Jose Lopez bounced into a 5-4-3 double play. Sexson collected his eighth RBI in the sixth with a one-out double to make it 4-1. The Mariners scored another in the seventh on Beltre's one-out double off Joaquin Benoit. Lopez scored all the way from first. Kata finished the scoring in the ninth with a home run on a 3-2 pitch from closer J.J. Putz. "I thought we pitched well," Hargrove added. "I thought we played defense well, except for that [third] inning. I thought we hit well. It just didn't happen for us tonight. We didn't get the really big hit when we needed it." Eric Gagne, in his first appearance for the Rangers after signing as a free agent, worked the ninth to pick up the save.
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.