"It's getting a little frustrating," said Washburn, who came into Saturday with five straight losses. "If it's just once or twice it happens throughout the year, you can deal with it because it's a part of the game, but I think that's seven now where I've left the game with the lead."
Washburn was one off in his calculations, but he had reason to feel a little better after Saturday's letdown of sorts, spurred by closer J.J. Putz losing a 2-0 Mariners lead after he surrendered a two-run homer to Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth inning. This was the first time the Mariners came back to win a game that Washburn left with the lead, but ended up with a no-decision.
"Wash has given us a chance to win every time," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We can't ask for more than that."
The customary slim-to-none run support Washburn receives didn't appear that it would matter this time out. He simply returned the favor by giving the Indians nothing to hit.
Washburn's closest call to surrendering runs came in the first two innings. With runners on the corners and one out, Washburn stabbed a sharp Jhonny Peralta liner, which allowed him to easily double up Ben Francisco at first base. In the second, Kelly Shoppach got to him with a two-out single and Andy Marte followed with a double. The rally was stifled, though, when Yuniesky Betancourt's relay throw beat a sliding Shoppach at home plate.
"I wasn't really sharp the first two innings, that's for sure," Washburn said. "I had a couple breaks ... but after that, I settled in and hit my spots better."
Washburn allowed all three of his hits in the first two innings before retiring 15 of the next 18 batters. He struck out a season-high eight and walked four, his last to Shoppach with two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, which led to his exit after 108 pitches.
"He just went lights-out for about four to five innings there," designated hitter Tug Hulett said.
But as they have throughout Washburn's three years in Seattle, the Mariners turned their offense off while he was on the mound. The Mariners put just one runner in scoring position against Indians starter Anthony Reyes, who scattered seven hits in his seven innings of work. Washburn has received just 3.7 runs per start this season and has received the least run support of any American League starter since 2005.
Reyes' one mistake, however, was enough to at least let Washburn leave with the possibility of picking up a win. Hulett, making just his third start since he was called up from Triple-A Tacoma three weeks ago, led off the third inning with a home run to right-center field -- the first of his career -- to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
"Anytime the ball goes over the fence it feels good, no matter how old you are or how many times you've done it," Hulett said. "But it's always nice to get the first one out of the way."
Ichiro Suzuki helped make it 2-0 when he led off the eighth inning with a double off Rafael Betancourt and came around to score on an Adrian Beltre sacrifice fly.
But it wasn't enough for Putz, who allowed a leadoff single to Ryan Garko before surrendering the 400-foot blast to Choo to tie the game, 2-2. It marked Putz's eighth blown save in 18 opportunities and the 25th for the Mariners this season, two shy of the club record.
"J.J. was throwing good," Riggleman said. "Choo timed it and, right there in that part of the ballpark, it flies. I knew as soon as it was elevated, it was going [out]."
Ichiro picked the Mariners back up in the 10th inning when he led off with a walk. He was forced out on a Jeremy Reed grounder, but the Mariners kept coming after Lewis. Beltre followed with a single before Raul Ibanez drove in the go-ahead run with a single to right.
Jose Lopez's one-out infield single almost ended the inning without any insurance runs as it hit Beltre, who was trying to advance from second to third. It appeared Beltre tried to swat the ball and prevent a double play, but the umpires ruled it was unintentional.
Jamie Burke made the most of the Mariners' abruptly rosy situation, slapping a single to center to score Ibanez and give the Mariners a much-needed insurance run.
"On ground balls, you can't assume the double play," Riggleman said. "Nobody's eyes are working that quick to know unless it's extremely obvious."
Indians manager Eric Wedge thought it was pretty obvious.
"[Beltre] stopped, put his hand up and intentionally hit the baseball," said Wedge, who was ejected for arguing the call. "If that's the case, it's an automatic double play. And that's what it should have been."
Nothing was automatic for the Mariners in the bottom of the 10th, as Sean Green allowed a two-out RBI single to Peralta to slice the two-run advantage in half. But Randy Messenger was there to pick Green, retiring Victor Martinez to preserve the Mariners' sixth win in their last eight games.