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Batista pitches well, but Mariners fall

Batista pitches well, but Mariners fall

TORONTO -- During the month of August, the Mariners' offense helped carry the load, while the starting rotation was unable to live up to expectations. On Saturday afternoon, the exact opposite was true.

Seattle received the type of performance it so desperately needed from right-hander Miguel Batista, but it still wasn't enough as the Mariners lost, 2-1, to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Mariners have now lost eight games in a row and fell to two games back of the Yankees for the American League Wild Card.

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"I just wanted to pitch a good game," Batista said. "The only way we're going to get out of that streak is to play good baseball, and I know that 75 percent of that responsibility is going to be in the pitching department."

Batista nearly did his job in helping the Mariners (73-61) avoid their longest skid of the season. He cruised through seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out eight. It was Batista's best outing since he threw seven shutout frames against the Angels on July 30, and a dramatic turnaround from his past two starts, where he allowed 14 earned runs in just eight innings.

"He bounced back really nice and threw a great game for us," Mariners manager John McLaren said. "He was throwing as hard in his last inning as he was at any point in the game."

Batista's only mistake came in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game still scoreless. He threw a low 2-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate that Jays catcher Gregg Zaun took over the wall in right for his seventh home run of the season.

The solo shot temporarily gave the Jays the lead, but it's not a pitch Batista regrets making. After the game, the righty said he liked where he spotted the fastball and that Zaun just did a good piece of hitting.

"I was looking for strike three," Batista said. "I didn't want to go to 3-2, and he pulled it. You have to give credit to the guy when he hits a pitch like that -- especially [a guy] that small. When Frank Thomas does that, OK, that's 350 pounds behind the bat, but not a guy that little. He hit a good pitch."

As dominant as Batisa may have been, by the end of the seventh inning, his pitch count had reached 116 pitches and there was no chance of McLaren letting him come back out to start the eighth with the game tied at 1-1.

Instead, McLaren called upon right-hander Sean Green. After allowing the first two batters he faced to reach base, Green (5-2) surrendered an RBI single to third baseman Troy Glaus that put the Jays in front for good.

"I made some good pitches," Green said. "They put the bat on the ball and it got through the infield. It was just one of those situations. ... But we're playing pretty good baseball -- just missing by a little bit each day."

The pitching staff has been where the Mariners have been falling short lately. Entering Saturday's contest, Seattle starters had combined to go 0-4 with a 6.63 ERA over its last seven games. The offense, meanwhile, was in the midst of enjoying one of the most successful months in franchise history. The club recorded 326 hits during August and batted .318, which is the highest monthly batting average the Mariners have ever had.

Saturday's game was the exact opposite. While Batista was on the top of his game, the offense was not. The Mariners were completely shut down by Jays starter Dustin McGowan (9-8), who allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out three over eight innings.

"He's just got great stuff," Mariners first baseman Ben Broussard said. "He was mixing it up and did a good job. Miggy did a great job for us -- holding them there. It was one of those games where you knew it was going to be a pitchers' duel, and we came out on the wrong side of it."

Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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