Furbush tosses gem, but loses steam late

Furbush tosses gem, but loses steam late

Furbush tosses gem, but loses steam late
ANAHEIM -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge is learning about his young team, just as his rookies are educating themselves. And the one lesson for both on Wednesday night seemed to be that Charlie Furbush was left in a little too long in what turned into a 3-1 loss to the Angels.

Furbush had everything going his way until the eighth inning on Wednesday when the Halos rallied for three runs, with third baseman Maicer Izturis ripping the decisive two-run double that tilted the game to the Angels.

Until that point, the Mariners held a 1-0 lead courtesy of their only hit of the night off Jerome Williams, a leadoff home run by rookie center fielder Trayvon Robinson in the sixth inning.

This educational process is coming with some growing pains, as Seattle dropped to 59-83 on the season, but there continue to be positive signs for the future. Furbush provided a big one on Wednesday with seven strong innings of shutout ball before being knocked out in the eighth.

"You try to learn as much as you can," said Furbush, who was acquired in the Doug Fister trade from the Tigers on July 30. "Especially for me, every outing I learn something new about the teams I face and how to be as successful as I can. I'm learning a lot and I think the whole team is. We've got a lot of young guys and we're doing our best to try to win some games."

Wedge had another rookie, hard-throwing right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, up in the bullpen in the eighth, but elected to stick with Furbush after he gave up a one-out single to Erick Aybar and walked Bobby Wilson.

Then up came Izturis, who ripped a 2-0 fastball into the left-center gap to score both runners.

"I wanted to give him the opportunity because I felt he earned it," Wedge said. "Plus Izturis is a lot better from the left side, so I didn't want to turn him around right there [against Wilhelmsen]. He got in trouble because he worked behind and had to come in on the 2-0 pitch there, but he threw a heckuva ball game.

"It's a significant step for him to be out there in that situation. It didn't work out this time, but he's gone through it now, and he'll be better for it next time."

Izturis actually has better numbers batting right-handed this season and very comparable numbers from each side over his career. But the eight-year veteran felt his main advantage was having seen Furbush in his prior at-bats, during which he'd gone 1-for-3 with another double.

"I had an eight-pitch at-bat before that one," Izturis said. "That helped me see all of his pitches. I got in a good count, 2-0, and got a fastball and hit it good. He [Furbush] was really good. He was throwing that big curveball and a good sinker."

Furbush has been up and down so far as a Mariners starter, but he put things together on this night and finished with five hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings, the longest start of his career

When Wedge did go to Wilhelmsen, the Angels tacked on one more run on a single by Peter Bourjos and then turned the game over to closer Jordan Walden, who notched his 29th save in relief of Williams.

Robinson was the only Mariner to touch Williams, his home run just sneaking over the short fence in right field. It was Robinson's second long ball in 25 games with the Mariners, both of which came at Angel Stadium.

"I didn't think it was going out, just like the other one," Robinson said. "It was kind of a sinker in and I just spun and swung. It felt like I got the end of it a little bit, but luckily it just got out."

The Angels pulled back within 2 1/2 games of front-running Texas in the American League West with the victory.

The game concluded the season series between the two AL West teams, with the Mariners going 7-12 overall and 2-8 at Angel Stadium. That's an improvement from last year's 4-15 mark, but clearly Seattle has some ground to make up against its division rivals.

Furbush, who gave up four runs and two home runs in six innings in a 6-3 loss to the Angels last Thursday, was extremely efficient as he breezed through the first seven innings on just 86 pitches.

He got some help from his defense as well. Brendan Ryan made another in a series of great plays at shortstop, fielding a high-hopper by Mark Trumbo that went over the head of third baseman Alex Liddi in the second inning and then making the long throw to beat the runner.

"That was really good, especially since I covered the ball too and it was tough for him to see it," said Liddi, making his Major League debut. "He made a good play. You don't see that in Triple-A."

Liddi became the first player born and raised in Italy to play in the Major Leagues, going 0-for-2 and handling his only two fielding opportunities, including a powerful throw to first after backhanding a Torii Hunter grounder deep behind the bag at third.

"The coaches had me lined up in the right spot," Liddi said of his seventh-inning highlight. "That helped. And that play kind of broke the ice for me."

Dustin Ackley saw his 10-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-3 night. Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 as the calendar continues to shorten on his attempt to reach 200 hits for a Major League-record 11th consecutive season. He needs 39 hits over the final 20 games to break his tie with Pete Rose.

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.