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Batista again a closer, if only briefly

Batista again a closer, if only briefly

ATLANTA -- There are two ways to look at the Mariners' current closing situation: They're down to their third choice, or they've got a viable third option with Major League closing experience.

Either way, Miguel Batista will handle the job of getting outs in the ninth inning.

"If we're in a situation to win a game late, [Batista will] be in there," manager Jim Riggleman said prior to Saturday night's game with the Atlanta Braves. "More than anything else, he's been in that role. There's something about getting that last out in the ninth -- it seems like it takes a special person to do that."

Unfortunately for the Mariners, Batista was far from special pn Saturday night, as he came in with a 4-3 lead, but five batters later -- a walk, double, intentional walk, hit batsman and a broken-bat single -- left with his ninth loss of the season.

"I didn't do my job in the ninth inning, that was it," said Batista, whose nine losses are tied for second in the American League, and whose 47 walks lead the AL.

"The two pitches they got hits on weren't bad pitches. They just happened to hit good pitches. The team played to win. If I did my job, it would be a different story."

Riggleman will give Batista opportunities to author happier endings in the immediate future.

"Miguel, it just wasn't his night," Riggleman said following Saturday's loss. "He didn't have it tonight."

He will have to find it soon, as incumbent closer J.J. Putz has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a hyperextended right elbow, and hard-throwing Brendan Morrow, who took over for Putz, is still in Seattle battling back spasms.

"J.J.'s just going along doing his throwing," Riggleman said. "I don't anticipate seeing him in a game -- I don't want to say before the All-Star break -- but I'm not counting on it.

"Brandon is going to meet us in New York," he continued. "He threw earlier today. Yesterday he felt better and today he felt better than yesterday. So he's made a lot of progress."

Until then, the job belongs to Batista, a 14-year pro who saved 31 games in 39 opportunities in 2005 with the Blue Jays.

On Opening Day, the 37-year-old right-hander recorded his first save since 2005 against Texas. He has since blown two attempts, including June 9 at Toronto, a game that the Mariners eventually won in 10 innings, and Saturday night.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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