SEATTLE -- Jason Hammel had one more start to show he belongs in the All-Star Game, and for the most part of seven innings, the right-hander proved he should be in Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic on July 10.
Hammel escaped early trouble and pitched well, but a defensive lapse helped lead to a three-run seventh, and the Orioles dropped the series opener to the Mariners, 6-3, on Monday night at Safeco Field.
The Orioles, who entered the game hitting .197 over the previous 15 contests, managed just three hits to back Hammel -- none after the fourth inning -- and have lost six of their last seven.
"You'd like to carry some momentum into the All-Star break, obviously," Hammel said. "Right now it's a tough go; just got to keep plugging along and finding our way. It's definitely frustrating for me because I did pitch so well. To give it up in the seventh inning there -- it really could have changed the momentum if we walk away with a 'W.'"
Hammel is one of five American League All-Star Game Final Vote candidates. Fans vote to decide who the last AL representative will be, and results will be announced shortly after the polls close at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. As he weaved his way through the Mariners' lineup early, it appeared he would add another win to help in one final push for the All-Star Game.
But second baseman Robert Andino couldn't handle a throw from catcher Matt Wieters in an attempt to complete a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play that would have cleared the bases with two outs in the seventh. Hammel then loaded the bases when he allowed a single and issued his second walk of the frame, but it still appeared he might escape the threat unscathed when Wieters made a tremendous snag on the top step of the Seattle dugout for the second out.
Casper Wells didn't let that happen, though, and put an 0-1 slider into the right-center-field gap for a bases-clearing double to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead and chase Hammel. The Mariners added back-to-back homers off reliever Troy Patton in the eighth to pad their lead.
"I saw quite a bunch of those," said Wells of the slider. "He's got a pretty good one. He left it up. I knew he'd be around the strike zone because there's no where else to go. The bases were pretty jam-packed there. He left a slider up a little and I was able to get it out there and I'm glad the guys got in to score."
"Just dropped it. Should have caught it, dropped it," said Andino on the stolen base. "Hit me right in my glove. Should have caught it. For me, I should have caught that ball and then it's probably the difference maker in the ballgame. We probably would have come out of that inning same score. My fault. I'll take the blame for that."
Hammel had been working with a 3-1 lead for most of the night after Chris Davis put the Orioles ahead with a two-out, three-run homer deep into the right-field seats in the fourth. Recently acquired veteran designated hitter Jim Thome started the rally with a single to right, his first hit as an Oriole.
A native of Port Orchard, Wash., Hammel already had to work out of a tight situation in the sixth when left fielder Steve Pearce was unable to haul in a well-hit ball near the wall. The play went down as a double, but Pearce admitted he was surprised he didn't catch the ball. However, Hammel, a graduate of nearby South Kitsap High School, kept his composure and induced Kyle Seager into a ground ball back to the mound and fanned Miguel Olivo to end the threat.
"Ham pitched great, he was outstanding," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We scored three runs with three hits; that's not going to do the job. That's been a challenge for us. We've got to get better at that.
"We had some lapses on defense that increased the pitch count for Ham, and he deserved to win that game. Boy, he pitched well enough to win, but one swing of the bat."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.