Bedard masterful in return to Mariners

Bedard masterful in return from DL

SEATTLE -- After 18 days, the Mariners finally got their lefty ace back. Erik Bedard returned from the disabled list to lead Seattle to a 5-3 victory over the Athletics on Saturday night at Safeco Field.

Bedard, who hadn't pitched since April 8 because of inflammation in his hip, dominated the Athletics in his 6 2/3 shutout innings of work, allowing only two hits. He struck out four batters while walking four in the 95-pitch outing.

"That was a pretty spectacular return for Mr. Bedard," Mariners manager John McLaren said following the win that snapped Seattle's three-game losing streak. "He really looked great. He had everything working. He had great control and really threw the ball well."

Bedard didn't allow a hit until a leadoff double by Bobby Crosby in the top of the fifth inning, but was able to escape without allowing a run by inducing a double play off the bat of Rajai Davis to end the inning and strand Crosby at third base.

The 18-day layoff didn't seem to bother Bedard one bit.

"I felt good, so I pushed it a little bit and got to 95 pitches and left the rest to the bullpen," Bedard said. "I was throwing strikes, and we hit the ball, scored some runs and won the game."

"I think he was ready," catcher Jamie Burke added. "And he went out there and showed us."

The bullpen helped secure the win for Bedard. Arthur Rhodes inherited a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, but the veteran left-hander preserved the shutout for the time being by striking out pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney to end the threat.

Closer J.J. Putz ran into trouble in the ninth inning, but was able to finish off the victory by getting Mike Sweeney on a check-swing dribbler with the bases loaded that Burke gobbled up and threw to first to end the game.

"J.J. looked a little rusty tonight," McLaren said. "He's still coming back from his injury and his rhythm was off. It wasn't easy, but he hung in there and got it done."

It was only Putz's second outing since returning from the disabled list on April 22 after suffering from mild costochondritis (inflammation where cartilage attaches to a rib).

The Seattle offense provided Bedard with some run support in the bottom of the third inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt doubled and scored on an Ichiro Suzuki single. An inning later, Brad Wilkerson's infield single plated Greg Norton to give the Mariners a 2-0 advantage.

Norton, starting at designated hitter in place of a struggling Jose Vidro, added a run-scoring single in the sixth inning and a two-run double in the eighth and finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

"I was just able to get some decent swings on some balls tonight," Norton said. "As bench players, we do a lot of extra work, but when you get that opportunity to get in there, you just hope to produce."

Chris Hester is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.