Cairo's single in 12th gives Mariners win

Cairo's single in 12th gives Mariners win

ARLINGTON -- It usually takes an act of Congress to get Major League players to admit any one win is an important win.

But to a man on late Wednesday afternoon, the veterans on this Mariners' team were using the least spoken words in a big league clubhouse after Miguel Cairo's RBI single lifted them to a 4-3 victory over the Rangers in 12 innings at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

This was a big win.

From Cairo, who had the game-winning hit and key defensive play, to starter Jarrod Washburn, who earned his first Major League save, and from Arthur Rhodes, who got a crucial double play ball, to starter Carlos Silva, who kept the Mariners in the game after a rough beginning, the message was the same.

These veterans each produced in their role, whether it was in a usual or unusual capacity.

"Whatever works, as long as we get a win," Washburn said. "We needed one now."

Any talk of team issues were set aside for one day. The Mariners avoided getting swept by the Rangers after winning for just the second time in nine games. It took some patience.

With the score tied at 3, the Mariners finally pieced together a clutch rally in the top of the 12th inning. Wladimir Balentien started things with a single to left, and was moved to second on Yuniesky Betancourt's sacrifice bunt.

The Mariners were on the edge of wasting the chance when Ichiro Suzuki flew out to center for the second out. But Cairo lined the first pitch from Franklyn German into center field for the go-ahead run.

It was vintage Cairo, who got used to being ready when called upon as a utility infielder for the New York Yankees. Cairo played first base Wednesday because Richie Sexson was serving the final day of his five-game suspension, and Jose Vidro was resting because of back spasms.

Not only did Cairo produce the game-winning hit, but he turned a double play on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Rangers first baseman Chris Shelton in the ninth inning.

"That's my job," Cairo said. "You always have to be prepared to win. It's nice to get in there and help the team. We needed this win."

Washburn, who pitched around a walk in the bottom of the 12th, also was prepared Monday, only in an unorthodox role. Since the Mariners have two off-days in the five days, Washburn is being skipped in the rotation, so he was in the bullpen the last two games. He knew he might get a save opportunity when closer J.J. Putz pitched two innings.

"My adrenaline was a lot different," Washburn said. "My fastball had a little extra life on it."

The Mariners also got clutch relief pitching from Mark Lowe and Putz.

Lowe struck out one of the Rangers' hottest hitters, Brandon Boggs, with the go-ahead run at second base in the eighth inning. The Rangers had just tied the game at 3 on Josh Hamilton's sacrifice fly.

Putz, who was pitching no matter the circumstances on Wednesday, kept the Rangers from walking off with another win in the 10th and 11th innings. Putz pitched a perfect 10th inning, but had to pitch out of a jam in the 11th with runners at first and second and two outs. Putz reached back and struck out Shelton to end the threat. He was done after that.

"I was taxed," Putz said. "It was very big to win this last one."

The Mariners were helped by some breaks for the first time in days. An error, a misplayed fly ball and a borderline strike call put the Mariners in position to win for the third time in 15 games.

Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez reached on an error to start the inning. Hamilton then misplayed Jeff Clement's line drive to center into a triple, tying the game at 2-2.

Rangers reliever Doug Mathis got two outs with the runner at third, but Betancourt slammed a double off the left-field wall for a 3-2 lead.

The Rangers quickly mounted a rally, loading the bases on a double and two walks. But Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes threw the key pitch of the game, getting pinch-hitter Marlon Byrd to ground into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of seventh.

That, after Byrd worked the count to 3-0 and appeared to take a pitch high and outside for ball four.

And don't forget Silva, who gave the Mariners 6 1/3 solid innings after giving up two runs in the first. Silva had to leave the game in the seventh because of mild lower back stiffness, but he said he will be fine to take his next turn in the rotation.

Just another veteran wanting to do his part to help turn around the Mariners' season.

"It was a very positive game and we still have work to do," Mariners manager John McLaren said.

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