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07/04/08 8:54 PM ET
Bullpen declares independence at home
Bedard fans six over five frames; Ibanez swats homer No. 10
By Jim Street / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Whenever Erik Bedard starts a game these days, Mariners relievers know there is about a 99-plus-percent chance that some of them will see some action. Sure enough, the left-hander departed after five innings and 99 pitches on Friday afternoon. Right-handers Sean Green and Brandon Morrow combined for four scoreless innings, finishing the job as the Mariners handed the Tigers a 4-1 loss in front of 30,564 at Safeco Field. It was the Mariners' second win in eight games against the Tigers this season, and featured another solid door-closing effort by Morrow, an acrobatic double play by second baseman Jose Lopez, and a majestic home run by left fielder Raul Ibanez. Ibanez provided the go-ahead run in the fourth inning, hammering a Kenny Rogers fastball high and far to right field. The ball caromed off a Hit It Here Café window. The 414-foot blast was Ibanez's 10th home run of the season, and gave Seattle (34-52) a 2-1 lead. Bedard, who yielded a leadoff home run to Miguel Cabrera in the second inning, danced around several scoring threats by the Tigers -- the most challenging coming in the fourth inning, when he walked the bases loaded and then struck out Ryan Raburn to escape the jam. One inning later, the phone was ringing in the bullpen and Green got ready. "[Bedard's] pitch count was up near 100, so I was already getting ready," Green said. "I also knew they had a lot of right-handers in the lineup today, so I was prepared." Bedard, who has now thrown fewer than 100 pitches in each of his past six starts, and has reached triple digits six times in 15 outings this season. He threw just enough innings on the Fourth of July to qualify for his sixth win, handing a 2-1 lead to Green. The much-used right-hander limited the Tigers to two hits over 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and Morrow retired all four batters he faced to notch his sixth save in six save chances. "Erik did a great job," Mariners interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's a heck of a ballclub over there, and they make you throw a lot of pitches." More than 30 of them were thrown in the fourth inning. "A lot of those pitches were close, and most teams would have taken a cut at some of them," Riggleman said. "That would have kept his pitch count down, but they just forced Erik into a very laboring five innings. He did a great job, but he really had to labor to do it. "He was really working hard, but when you face Detroit, you're going to have to work hard, especially a left-hander. I was really proud of the way he kept us in there, because Rogers was doing it to us. We weren't getting much off him, as it turns out we were going to have to win a low-scoring game, when normally we'd have to score a bunch of runs to beat them." Bedard dressed quickly and departed Safeco Field without talking to the media -- the second consecutive game a Seattle starter has shunned the press. Carlos Silva had no comments after his start on Thursday night. But Green, among others, happily obliged. He made his American League-best 43rd appearance, and his longest, at 2 2/3 innings. "That was really big," Riggleman said. "He was just outstanding, and has been really good from the second or third week of April. He's been durable, very effective, and today was one of his gutsiest performances, and most effective." Green retired all three batters he faced in the sixth, escaped a first-and-second, one-out predicament in the seventh, and survived a leadoff single to Cabrera in the eighth -- thanks to Lopez's fancy footwork at second base. Mike Hollimon, pinch-running for Cabrera and representing the tying run, slid hard into Lopez trying to break up a double play. Lopez, who received the ball from third baseman Adrian Beltre, had to jump to avoid the runner, and while still in the air, made a strong throw to first base to complete the double play. "[Lopez] has such a strong arm that even though he was a little off-balance, he was still able to get enough on the throw," Riggleman said. Lopez said he would have been satisfied with getting one out on play. "I was concentrating on getting one out, because we were winning by one run," he said. "I jumped because he was going to kill me. I noticed that the runner from home plate [Marcus Thames] was slow, so I made the throw. That's the first time I have ever jumped like that and threw the ball." Lopez contributed with his bat in the bottom of the inning, lining a two-run double into the gap in right-center. The drive scored catcher Jamie Burke from second and Ichiro Suzuki from first. Burke, making his first start since June 14, started the inning with a single up the middle for his second hit of the game. He also doubled in the third inning and scored Seattle's first run of the game. Morrow, who replaced Green and retired Gary Sheffield on a popup to end the eighth inning, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth to extend his scoreless streak. He has not allowed an earned run since May 12, a streak of 15 2/3 innings. Speaking of streaks, Ichiro went 0-for-3 and has now gone a career-high 89 consecutive at-bats without an extra-base hit.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.