Bedard fine in return, 'pen not so smooth

Bedard fine in return, 'pen struggles

SEATTLE -- Erik Bedard's first start since June 7 was encouraging, as the left-hander struck out eight batters in four innings and retired the last 10 guys he faced.

But the Mariners bullpen, consistent for much of this season, couldn't get it done against Baltimore on Tuesday.

Bedard's limited pitch count -- coupled with a long first inning -- forced the 'pen into action early, and three Mariners relievers combined to allow 10 runs over five innings in a 12-4 blowout loss to the Orioles in front of 19,340 at Safeco Field.

Four runs in the sixth and six more in the seventh blew this one open for the Orioles, who rebounded from an early 3-2 deficit by feasting on Chris Jakubauskas and Shawn Kelley.

"We had a good ballgame going," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "And then the wheels fell off."

And in a big way. With the game tied at 3, Baltimore DH Luke Scott tripled with the bases loaded in the sixth, driving in two of his seven runs. Franklin Gutierrez, who has been one of the best center fielders in the Major Leagues this season, came in on the ball as soon as it was hit and couldn't recover in time to make the catch. The play was ruled a hit, but it was a catch that Gutierrez usually makes.

That opened the flood gates for an offensive explosion. Melvin Mora followed with an RBI single to give the Orioles a 6-3 lead, and Scott highlighted a six-run seventh inning with a three-run homer to right-center field.

Scott also drove in the Orioles' first two runs in the first inning with a bases-loaded single to center field, but Baltimore manager Dave Trembley thought they should have had one more. Gutierrez made an errant throw into the seats up the third-base line, and Trembley was ejected for arguing that Nolan Reimold, who moved from first to third on the play, should have been awarded home plate.

"I felt the play wasn't called correctly," Trembley said after his third ejection of the season. "I have a lot of respect for the umpires, but when you make a mistake, you've got to admit you made a mistake. They said Reimold had not touched second base before the ball was out of the hand of Gutierrez, and basically told me that Reimold didn't run hard. And that set me off because I asked Reimold, and he told me he already got to second base before the ball was out of the hand of Gutierrez."

It looked like it may have been a fairly crucial ruling. Gutierrez put the Mariners ahead 3-2 with a two-out home run to left-center field in the bottom of the frame, his ninth dinger of the season.

Other than a sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki in the bottom of the ninth, that was all the Mariners got. In a battle of bullpens, the Orioles won this one by a landslide. After starter Jeremy Guthrie was yanked after allowing three runs and walking four in 2 1/3 innings -- he was also displaying some flu symptoms -- Baltimore's 'pen tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Left-hander Mark Hendrickson worked 3 2/3 of that while striking out five to get the win.

It wasn't all bad for the Mariners, though. In his first start since being placed on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness, Bedard allowed only two runs and was perfect after the rough opening frame, but his pitch count reached 72 after the first four innings and he had to be removed. Manager Don Wakamatsu said before the game that Bedard would be on a pitch count of around 75-85. He should be closer to 90 in his next start on Sunday, Wakamatsu said.

Reserved as usual, Bedard said the process was fairly simple.

"I don't know," Bedard said, asked what changed for him after the rocky start. "Just throwing strikes. That's about it."

If only it were that simple for the bullpen. Jakubauskas worked a scoreless fifth, then gave up a single to Nick Markakis to lead off the sixth and went to a 3-0 count two batters later on Aubrey Huff before intentionally walking him.

That changed the landscape of the game. Wakamatsu said he thought Jakubauskas was pitching too much to protect the lead instead of going after guys, and it cost him. Reimold followed the walk with a single, then Scott's triple blew it open.

"For me, it really came down to getting behind Huff 3-0," Wakamatsu said. "That was kind of a turning point in the game where I thought he should have challenged him a little bit more. Then the momentum switched, and they came up swinging from that point on."

Kelley didn't fare any better, as he allowed five runs on four hits in one inning pitched. Roy Corcoran allowed Scott's homer after entering with runners on first and second.

The Mariners had some chances of their own offensively, but Hendrickson worked out of a couple jams to keep them off the scoreboard. He came into the game with runners on first and second in the third, but struck out Gutierrez and Ryan Langerhans to end the threat. Langerhans struck out twice more with runners in scoring position to end the fifth and eighth innings.

By that point, it didn't matter.

"In two innings, the game was basically out of control," Wakamatsu said. "Other than that, I thought we had a pretty good game going. ... We had some opportunities with the walks we didn't take advantage of early. We could have blown that game out a little bit earlier. We let the tides change on us."

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