Mariners drop seventh straight game

Mariners drop seventh straight game

TORONTO -- The Mariners were short-handed before Saturday afternoon's game against the Blue Jays even began.

Seattle had used all seven members of its bullpen during the opener of the three-game series and was without the originally scheduled starter, Carlos Silva, who was scratched because of soreness in his lower back.

The team turned to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on just three days' rest and the end result wasn't pretty. Dickey surrendered at least one run in every inning he pitched en route to an 8-3 loss as the Mariners dropped their seventh consecutive game.

"On particular days he doesn't have a swing-and-miss knuckleball," Mariner manager Jim Riggleman said. "And he didn't have that going for him as much as he has on some other times. If he can't get them to swing and miss at it, that thing comes off the bat in all different directions."

On Saturday, Toronto didn't waste any time getting to Dickey. In the bottom of the first inning, center fielder Alex Rios hit a 2-0 pitch over the wall in deep left field for his seventh home run of the season to put the Mariners into an early 1-0 hole.

Dickey (2-6) would surrender one run in each of the next two innings before pitching himself into even more trouble in the bottom of the fourth. He surrendered a leadoff single before issuing back-to-back walks to load the bases with nobody out.

Former Mariner Brad Wilkerson drove home the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field. Two batters later, leadoff man Joe Inglett hit an RBI double to the gap in right-center field to extend Toronto's lead to 5-1.

"I just couldn't get into a good rhythm out there," said Dickey, who surrendered eight runs on 10 hits while issuing four walks. "Right when I'd think I had a good feel for it, they'd dump one in down the line.

"They were able to capitalize on some of my mistakes as well as some walks."

Dickey, who was informed that he was starting less than 24 hours prior to Saturday's game, is now 1-6 with a 6.06 ERA in nine starts this season. The results might not have been what he wanted, but the Mariners needed to keep Dickey out there as long as possible because of their already overtaxed bullpen.

"I didn't necessarily have the best stuff that I've had this year out there today," Dickey said. "I was just trying to suck up as many innings as I could with mediocre stuff. I wish I could have gone longer, but I didn't."

After Rios hit his second solo home run -- marking the second multi-home run game of his career -- the Mariners tried to get back into it with a rally in the top of the sixth inning.

With one on, second baseman Jose Lopez crushed the first pitch he saw from Jays starter David Purcey into the second deck in left field for his seventh home run of the season. It was the second extra-base hit for the 24-year-old in the game as he extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.

After struggling during the second half for the past two years, Lopez seems to have turned that around this season. Since beginning his hitting streak on July 9 versus Oakland, he has hit .298 (17-for-57) with two home runs and 11 RBIs.

"The last two years I've struggled a little bit in the second half, but this year I don't think about it," Lopez said. "I'm thinking the same thing as the first half. Swing hard ... and have good at-bats."

The Mariners (38-65) managed to record seven hits off Purcey -- who was making just the third start of his Major League career -- but scored just three runs.

"We got our hits against him," Riggleman said of Toronto's starter, who recorded his first Major League victory. "We didn't put him away, but if R.A. had been sharper today, it would have been, say, 3-3 [after Lopez's homer], and it's a little different how you use your bullpen."

One positive to be taken from the game was that outfielder Ichiro Suzuki broke out of an 0-for-14 slump with a single up the middle in the top of the ninth inning off Jays reliever Jason Frasor. Ichiro now is just four hits shy of No. 3,000 for his combined professional career in Japan and the Majors.

The Mariners will need more of those hits as they try to break out of their recent funk. The team has managed to win just three of its past 16 games.

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