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09/19/12 10:24 PM ET

Bullpen seeking relief after recent heavy workload

SEATTLE -- In the wake of Tuesday's 18-inning loss to the Orioles and Monday's 1 1/3-inning start by Hector Noesi, manager Eric Wedge has needed his relievers to soak up 17 2/3 innings of work in two games going into Wednesday night's series finale with the Orioles.

Even with September callups providing extra depth, that's a heavy burden for a bullpen. Oliver Perez (4 innings), Stephen Pryor (3) and Shawn Kelley (2 2/3) threw in both of the first two games against Baltimore and Wedge used seven different relievers on Tuesday, including two innings out of closer Tom Wilhelmsen.

"We got a couple guys who will be down, but it's a rally day for the 'pen," Wedge said prior to Wednesday's Felix Hernandez start. "They're a close group, you rally together and you pick your ballclub up. We've got an off-day tomorrow and Felix on the mound tonight, so hopefully he steps up and has a good performance for us and we won't need near as much out of the 'pen as we have the last couple nights."

The Mariners can thank Blake Beavan for seven strong innings Sunday in Texas for keeping things from being a lot worse, as Wedge had gone heavily to his 'pen in the previous five games of the last road trip as well.

Over the past eight games, Wedge used his nine relievers in 33 instances to get 34 2/3 innings of work, an average of four relievers for 4 1/3 innings every game.

Kelley threw in five of those games (5 innings), Josh Kinney threw five games (4 1/3 innings), Perez four (5 1/3 innings), Pryor four (4 innings), Wilhelmsen four (5 1/3 innings), Lucas Luetge four (3 innings), Carter Capps three (5 innings), Charlie Furbush three (2/3 of an inning) and Noesi once (2 innings).

Kelley grimaced after giving up a hit to J.J. Hardy, the first batter he faced in the 16th Tuesday, but stayed in the game and finished the inning even after catcher Miguel Olivo had signaled for the trainer to come out to the mound.

"I'm a little sore today," Kelley acknowledged Wednesday. "I warmed up a few times last night. My shoulder was a little fatigued. All that caught up with me a little bit. I wasn't hurt or anything, just a little achy and didn't feel 100 percent.

"I knew it wasn't anything where I was going to hurt anything on the next pitch. Miggy was just concerned and saw something in my face and being a good teammate he knew something wasn't right. I appreciated him doing that, but I told them, 'Hey, I'm finishing this inning, I'm good. We'll talk about it later.'"

When the game ended with lefty specialist Luetge taking the loss in his second inning in the 18th, Capps was the only reliever still in the bullpen and he was off limits after throwing the previous two days.

Beavan was sent to the bullpen to warm up and would have been used next, Wedge said. Beavan also will be in the bullpen for Wednesday's finale in case of emergency, with Noesi also available now that he's been taken out of the rotation.

Ejection in 10th inning was a first for Saunders

SEATTLE -- Mariners left fielder Michael Saunders wasn't so much upset at getting tossed from Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Orioles as he was that his first career ejection came in a game that wound up going 18 innings and he might have been able to help.

Saunders got the heave-ho from home-plate umpire Jordan Baker after getting called for an inning-ending third strike in the bottom of the 10th with runners on first and second.

"I wasn't happy with the call and it was a situation where we'd have had the bases loaded at that point and a passed ball or error or anything wins the game," Saunders said. "I let my emotions get the best of me. I threw my equipment in disgust and walked away. I might have said something near the end of where I was going. I think he was just kind of waiting to see if I turned around and if I did, I was done. And I did."

Saunders said he wasn't trying to show Baker up, which was why he was heading back to the dugout.

Saunders plays with some fire, which is OK with manager Eric Wedge. Saunders went to Wedge's office after the game, but the skipper said he had no issue with his actions.

"I like the intensity, I like the fire," Wedge said. "That's something that hasn't happened to him before. I'm not taking that away from him. He's all-in on everything, he's been fantastic this year and I still think he's just scratching the surface.

"For him to be fighting out there and wanting it that bad, maybe his emotions get the best of him from time to time, but I'm willing to take that."

Saunders said he was ejected once from a Minor League game, but this obviously was a bigger situation that was multiplied with how the game played out.

"I iced, got finished in the training room and sat and watched the game for a few more hours, which was honestly even more tough," he said. "The fact it kept going and going, knowing I should still be out there, didn't make it any easier."

Olivo in lineup at DH after catching 18 innings

SEATTLE -- After catching 18 innings Tuesday, Miguel Olivo was back in the lineup Wednesday, though at designated hitter as manager Eric Wedge wanted as many right-handers as possible against Orioles southpaw Joe Saunders.

Olivo is 6-for-13 with a home run against Saunders in his career and his two-run home run Tuesday provided the Mariners' only scoring in that 4-2 loss.

"He's been swinging the bat well and has numbers against this guy, but I wasn't going to catch him," Wedge said. "We don't have a great deal of experience against this guy, but Miggy has the most and has some success against him. Like I said, he's been swinging the bat better."

Olivo's 18 innings was the second-longest catching stint in a single game in Mariners history. Jim Essian caught all 19 1/3 innings in a 4-3 loss to the Angels on April 13-14, 1982, though that game was played over two days.

The previous longest single-day catching performance was 17 innings by Bob Kearney on May 11, 1984, at Yankee Stadium.

Olivo acknowledged he was a little sore after his iron-man duties, but the 34-year-old keeps himself in excellent condition and was happy to be playing again after seeing sporadic time over the past three months with the emergence of John Jaso and rookie Jesus Montero.

"He's done everything we've asked him to do and then some, sometimes under difficult circumstances having Jaso and Montero here," Wedge said. "You know the guy wants to play every single day, but he's been a great teammate all the way and deserves to play today."

Worth noting

• When the Mariners went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position Tuesday, it marked the most hitless at-bats with RISP since the Red Sox went 0-for-19 in a 12-inning win over the Yankees on April 24, 2004.

• Friday's game against the Rangers will be Fan Appreciation Night at Safeco Field with all fans receiving a team poster with a preview of next year's schedule. There will be random drawings for prizes throughout the game and fans will have the chance to catch specially marked balls in batting practice that are redeemable for players autographs.

• Saturday's game with the Rangers will start at 6:10 p.m. The contest was listed at being either 1:10 or 6:10 p.m. on schedules.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.