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Baltimore at Seattle

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Baltimore (2-13)100000000141
Seattle (8-7) «20000010x381

Mariners continue to surge on mound, handle lowly Orioles

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SEATTLE -- A week ago, the Mariners were sinking. No passable starting pitching beyond ace Felix Hernandez. No shortage of angst over when Cliff Lee will get healthy to rescue the season.

Now, six wins in seven games later, there's still angst -- over which stellar starter should go when Lee returns.

Jason Vargas extended a stretch of strong outings by the rotation in Seattle's 3-1 victory over the struggling Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

One night after Doug Fister carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning for a win, Vargas (2-1) allowed just three hits in seven innings against the anemic Orioles.

Then again, Baltimore is 2-13, with just two runs and nine hits combined in two games here.

Vargas had allowed two runs and five hits in six innings to beat Oakland last week. He is competing with Fister and Ian Snell to keep the final two rotation spots before Lee returns from a strained abdomen to make his Seattle debut, likely at the end of next week.

The Mariners' most consistent starter since the beginning of spring training said he isn't thinking beyond this week.

"That's not up to me," Vargas said of his fate when Lee comes back. "I really don't have an answer for you on that -- other than I will throw a bullpen in a couple days."

The 27-year-old former high school quarterback who quit baseball power LSU after just one season and then became a power hitter at Long Beach State relied on a dastardly changeup and precise fastball while allowing the Orioles to get themselves out, as is their norm right now. Vargas didn't throw a pitch faster than 88 mph, yet he retired 19 of 23 batters after Baltimore took a 1-0 lead on Nick Markakis' double in the first inning.

"We haven't been ahead in the first inning for a long time," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said, almost wistfully. "We wasted a very good performance by [David] Hernandez."

Hours after Baltimore demoted Brad Bergesen, its 2009 rookie star starter, to Triple-A, Hernandez (0-3) lost his ninth consecutive decision since Aug. 11. The Orioles have lost 12 consecutive games started by the 24-year-old right-hander.

Hernandez allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He left after consecutive doubles by the previously slumping Adam Moore -- "I forgot what those white things were out there," Moore joked of the bases -- and Jack Wilson. Seattle's No. 8 and 9 hitters made it 3-1.

Mark Lowe pitched a scoreless eighth and David Aardsma finished for his sixth save -- and 16th consecutive conversion dating to Aug. 24.

Not that many noticed. One night after Safeco Field hosted the smallest crowd in its 10½-year history -- 14,528 -- just 15,931 were covered by the retractable roof on a cool, damp night. It was the third-smallest turnout at the stadium, and three of Safeco Field's lowest five crowd counts have been on this opening homestand.

After a single by Ichiro Suzuki and a walk to Chone Figgins leading off the first, Hernandez advanced each with a wild pitch -- a breaking ball that appeared to skip off the lip of infield grass about 8 feet in front of home plate.

Franklin Gutierrez drove in Suzuki with a sacrifice fly. Then Milton Bradley singled home Jose Lopez with the go-ahead run.

Bradley fist-bumped first-base coach Lee Tinsley after his eighth RBI in eight games and appeared fine, yet left the game with tightness in his left calf minutes later. Eric Byrnes replaced him in left field.

The often news-making Bradley is due in Chicago this weekend for the first time since the Cubs traded him this winter following one failed season. The Mariners and White Sox begin a three-game series Friday, and manager Don Wakamatsu expects Bradley to be in the lineup because "it doesn't look like anything serious."

Wakamatsu said he will rest Bradley in Wednesday's series finale.

After starting the season 1 for 21, Bradley is 6 for 21 (.286) in his last eight games.

Notes

  • Seattle might get Lee back on April 30. The team is considering that debut date after Major League Baseball dropped the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner's five-game suspension for throwing over the head of Arizona's Chris Snyder in an exhibition game, and after Lee breezed through a 70-pitch simulated game. Lee has an 85-pitch minor league rehabilitation start scheduled for Sunday at Triple-A Tacoma.
  • Orioles 3B Miguel Tejada (strained groin) wanted to start but Trembley wanted him to only take batting practice instead on a cool night. Tejada could return Wednesday.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jason Vargas, the latest Mariners pitcher to dazzle, yields just three hits through seven innings.  (AP)
Jason Vargas, the latest Mariners pitcher to dazzle, yields just three hits through seven innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Seattle

J. Vargas
IP 7.0
H 3
ER 1
BB 2
K 5
Seattle

I. Suzuki
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones, CF4000020 .215
Ty Wigginton, 3B3110100 .297
Nick Markakis, RF4000012 .222
Nolan Reimold, DH4011021 .171
Luke Scott, LF4000012 .186
Matt Wieters, C4020010 .302
Garrett Atkins, 1B4000003 .220
Julio Lugo, 2B2000101 .115
Cesar Izturis, SS3000002 .225
Totals3214127  
Batting
2B - Ty Wigginton (2, Vargas), Nolan Reimold (3, Vargas), Matt Wieters (1, Vargas)
RBI - Nolan Reimold (5)
2-OUT RBI - Nolan Reimold (1)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Izturis-Lugo-Atkins
E - Cesar Izturis (1, Misplayed grounder)
Baltimore Orioles
David Hernandez (L,0-3) 6.1733220 4.67
Will Ohman 0.2000010 0.00
Matt Albers 1100000 6.43
WP - David Hernandez (1)
Pitches-Strikes - David Hernandez 104-67, Will Ohman 10-6, Matt Albers 23-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Hernandez 8-8, Will Ohman 1-0, Matt Albers 4-0
Batters Faced - David Hernandez 27, Will Ohman 2, Matt Albers 5
Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF4120011 .333
Chone Figgins, 2B3000112 .204
Franklin Gutierrez, CF3011000 .421
Jose Lopez, 3B4100011 .246
Ken Griffey Jr., DH3020100 .263
Milton Bradley, LF1011000 .167
    Eric Byrnes, LF3000001 .118
Casey Kotchman, 1B4000004 .261
Adam Moore, C3110000 .120
Jack Wilson, SS3011000 .255
Totals3138323  
Batting
2B - Adam Moore (1, Hernandez), Jack Wilson (4, Hernandez)
SF - Franklin Gutierrez (1)
RBI - Franklin Gutierrez (10), Milton Bradley (10), Jack Wilson (3)
2-OUT RBI - Milton Bradley (5)
SB - Ichiro Suzuki (4, 2nd base off Hernandez/Wieters)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Jose Lopez (2, Throwing)
Seattle Mariners
Jason Vargas (W,2-1) 7311250 3.93
Mark Lowe (H,2) 1000010 3.18
David Aardsma (S,6) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Vargas 105-65, Mark Lowe 7-6, David Aardsma 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Vargas 9-8, Mark Lowe 1-1, David Aardsma 1-1
Batters Faced - Jason Vargas 27, Mark Lowe 3, David Aardsma 4
Game Information
Attendance - 15931
Game Time - 2:21
Temperature - 53
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - Mike Reilly