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07/08/08 1:59 AM ET
Sexson homer not enough in loss to A's
Left-hander Washburn goes distance; Beltre adds four hits
By Jim Street / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- After running out of available relievers during their 15-inning game on Sunday afternoon, the Mariners needed a bunch of innings from left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn on Monday night in their series opener against the Athletics. He delivered big-time, pitching his first complete game of the season. One problem, though. There was no bottom of the ninth inning. The Mariners bolted to a three-run lead in the first inning on Richie Sexson's 11th home run of the season, had a runner thrown out at the plate in the second inning, and saw a last-ditch comeback effort in the ninth inning fall short, dropping a 4-3 decision to their American League West rivals in front of 11,129 at McAfee Coliseum. "What we got out of this game was Wash's performance," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He was outstanding. What he did really sets us up for the next couple of days in our bullpen, but we have to win that ballgame." If you think losing that extra-inning marathon on Sunday was tough to take, this one was even worse. Seattle had more hits, more scoring chances and more than three times as many runners left on base, a scenario that has happened all too often this season. The Mariners stranded 10, including two in the ninth inning when they had two of their most reliable hitters -- Raul Ibanez and Adrian Beltre -- poised to at least tie the game, if not go ahead and leave the outcome up to closer Brandon Morrow. But Athletics closer Huston Street retired both hitters for the save. "I just feel we didn't put the killer instinct on them and get 'em early," Riggleman said. The manager boiled the game down to two plays. He lauded opposing manager Bob Geren for replacing left-handed starter Dana Eveland with side-arm right-hander Brad Zeigler with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Second baseman Jose Lopez took a pitch for a strike and then grounded into an inning-ending double play. Lopez watched the first pitch from the funky delivery and then had little choice but to swing at another strike, and hit into the DP. Another costly play came an inning earlier. The Mariners, still ahead 3-1 at the time, had runners on first and second with one out. Beltre, who singled in each of his first four at-bats, was on second and Sexson on first base via a walk. With Kenji Johjima batting, Beltre sprinted to third base -- and rounded the base ever-so-briefly. When he realized that Johjima's fly ball was going to be caught by center fielder Carlos Gonzalez, Beltre reversed direction and returned to second base. He forgot to tag third base on his way back, the Athletics saw it happen, and Beltre became the final out of the inning. "Let me say this," Riggleman said. "[Beltre] is one of the best baserunners in baseball. He knew he had it easy going back to second, but he just missed the base. There's nothing else I can say about it. A good baserunner made a baserunning mistake." Third-base coach Sammy Perlozzo was in a bind. "I tried to spit out,'retag' but he already had taken a couple of steps back to second," Perlozzo said. "I didn't want to say it too loudly and bring attention to it. Even if he had come back and retagged, he might not have made it back to second." The bottom of the fifth inning put the Mariners behind for the first time. First baseman Wes Bankston, who doubled and scored Oakland's first run of the game in the third inning, smacked a game-tying, two-run home run off Washburn in the fifth. Bankston's first career home run came on a first-pitch slider from the Mariners' veteran lefty. "That last thing I thought is him looking for a first-pitch, backdoor breaking pitch," Washburn said. "Right there is a perfect example of not knowing the hitters. I hadn't faced him before tonight, didn't know how to approach him. "Oakland guys usually are very patient and take some pitches, and I thought I would get a nice, first-pitch strike. I don't know if he was guessing breaking ball, or what. It didn't work for me." Geren said, "Some of our young guys who haven't faced him are the guys who got to him." Three of the Athletics hitters that are household names in their own homes -- Bankston, Gonzalez, and Gregario Petit -- went a combined 4-for-9 with two doubles, a home run and three runs scored. "There are a lot of new faces over there," Washburn said. "They have had some rough luck with injuries, but they always seem to find guys that can plug the holes and do the job. But I approached the game exactly the same way. It worked out that Oakland decided to swing the bat early and kept my pitch count down." Washburn threw 102 pitches, 66 of them for strikes, in pitching the Mariners' second complete game of the season. "It sets us up little better for tomorrow, but that is small consolation," Riggleman said. "We should have won that game. I don't like the feeling of getting three quick runs and let it get away from us."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.