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Seattle lineup struggles in loss

Seattle lineup struggles in loss

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SEATTLE -- When Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu looked ahead to the weekend series against the Tigers that ended Sunday, he saw his new-and-improved team would be facing a huge challenge against three "stuff" pitchers.

On Sunday before 30,450 at Safeco Field, the Mariners offense and starter Carlos Silva didn't have the right stuff, however, and the team dropped its second straight low-octane loss, this one by a score of 8-2.

Detroit's trio of hard-throwing right-handed starters continued to confound Seattle, with 20-year-old Rick Porcello doing the majority of the damage on Sunday. Porcello, who pitched at Class A Lakeland in 2008, kept the Mariners in check with a seven-inning, one-run outing in which he threw 86 pitches.

Save their five-run inning in Friday night's surprising come-from-behind win over Justin Verlander, the Mariners' lineup wasn't working for the weekend.

"Our overall philosophy is trying to get a little deeper in counts," Wakamatsu said. "We have an aggressive offense, and sometimes it can work against you. It's something we're going to have to work on."

Another of Wakamatsu's philosophies early in the season has been for the Mariners to keep every game close.

But Seattle's Sunday starter, Carlos Silva, was unable to repeat the success of his last outing, a seven-inning, two-run effort against the Angels, and he exited after five innings in which he gave up four runs on six hits and threw 94 pitches.

Most of the scoring came in the fourth, when, with the score tied at 1, the Tigers plated three runs. That included a perfectly placed squeeze bunt by Ramon Santiago, who added a three-run double in the eighth to put the game on ice. The damage could have been more severe, too, if not for stellar defense by Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre, who made two Gold Glove-caliber stops on ground balls.

"I was trying to pitch my game, but in that inning, everything worked out for them," Silva said. "That inning was the game."

Wakamatsu said he still likes what he sees from Silva, who slimmed down over the winter in an attempt to erase from his mind the 15-loss campaign of 2008 that marked his first season in Seattle after signing a four-year, $48 million contract.

"We had to take him out of there a little earlier than we thought," Wakamatsu said. "He got in some trouble, but we would have sent him back out there if he wasn't at [94 pitches].

"I'm not going to blame him for not competing. ... He's heading in the right direction. His stuff is better."

But it wasn't better than Porcello's on Sunday, and the rookie impressed several in the Mariners' camp. After Ronny Cedeno's solo home run in the third inning and an infield hit by Ichiro Suzuki, Porcello retired the last 14 batters he faced.

"I had no idea he was only 20 years old," Cedeno said. "He doesn't seem like he's 20. He's got really good stuff."

Wakamatsu agreed, saying Porcello, like Verlander and Edwin Jackson, who beat Seattle on Saturday night, showed no signs of the control problems the Mariners were hoping to take advantage of.

"I think he had good command," Wakamatsu said. "His velocity was up a little bit from what we saw on tape. He looked awfully composed for a young pitcher. He pitched a good ballgame."

Wakamatsu said Monday's off-day might be a good time for his team to regroup, rest some aching bones and maybe even rethink its offensive approach just a little bit.

"I believe in this offense," Wakamatsu said. "I think right now there's guys pushing to get some things going. We're going to score runs. But I think a little bit is self-imposed pressure. Guys are trying to do too much."

Silva echoed that sentiment when he disagreed strongly with the notion that the Seattle starting rotation would have to be prepared to deal with a lack of run support all season based on the last two games, in which the team scored two runs.

"Our team can score a lot of runs, too," Silva said. "We have a very good team."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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