Mariners pull off rare feat: rally for win
A joyous group of Mariners had just managed to solve one of their seasonlong mysteries. But their ability to overcome a three-run deficit for only the second time this year was tempered somewhat by the more perplexing enigma of one Miguel Batista.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle @ Oakland, 12:37 p.m., FSN
OAKLAND, Calif. — A joyous group of Mariners had just managed to solve one of their seasonlong mysteries.
But their ability to overcome a three-run deficit for only the second time this year was tempered somewhat by the more perplexing enigma of one Miguel Batista. The oft-injured starter pulled up lame yet again Wednesday night, just three pitches into the third inning of what became his team's 6-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Batista's latest hurt, a groin strain, will sideline him until after the All-Star break and opened the door for another pitcher to attain a career milestone. That would be relief pitcher Roy Corcoran, an eight-year baseball pro and part-time major-leaguer who finally notched his first big-league win.
"It feels good," Corcoran said after tossing 2-2/3 shutout innings. "It's been '03, '04, '06, three years up and down and I never got one."
Mariners closer J.J. Putz soon crept up on the postgame interview session and treated the pitcher with a shaving-cream pie to the face.
"Now, I've got to shower again," Corcoran moaned, his eyes stinging.
But it was Batista's early shower that had the team moaning even more. Batista was seen hobbling off to the training room after the game, his right leg wrapped in an ice pack.
The A's scored three runs on a Donnie Murphy double off reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning, with runner Jack Hannahan running over catcher Jeff Clement for the third run.
A crowd of 21,128 at McAfee Coliseum had to like the home side's chances at that point. Seattle had only overcome one other deficit of three runs to win this season, beating Toronto 7-6 on July 1 after being down 6-2.
But the Mariners stunned everybody by scoring five runs off A's starter Joe Blanton in the fifth inning to go ahead to stay. Jose Lopez knocked in three with a double to left, and Raul Ibanez doubled home another run.
Ibanez then scored on an infield single by Adrian Beltre off the glove of first baseman Daric Barton. After rounding third on the play, Ibanez was frozen on the basepaths by Barton — who threw to third as Ibanez broke for home.
The ensuing throw home beat Ibanez, and A's catcher Kurt Suzuki, completely blocking the plate, spun around so that his back was completely facing the runner. Ibanez somehow tiptoed past Suzuki, attempting to avoid the tag and step on the plate.
He somehow fooled plate umpire Mark Wegner into thinking he'd done so, even though television replays seemed to show Ibanez getting tagged out before touching home. But the run stood and Arthur Rhodes, Sean Green and Brandon Morrow joined Corcoran in holding the A's off from there.
Two complete games tossed in losing causes by Jarrod Washburn and Carlos Silva left the bullpen fresh enough to withstand the latest early exit by Batista.
This was Batista's first test as a starter since being pulled from a game at Shea Stadium on June 25, having given up eight runs — four earned — in just 2-2/3 innings. He'd complained after that of having pushed himself to the mound with lingering back pain since spring training, an admission that drew the ire of team management and earned him a stern talking to.
"He was fine, no issues with his back or anything," Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said of Batista, who yielded a long home run to center by Jack Cust in the second inning.
By the third inning, the training staff was out to the mound to get Batista after the count went 1-2 on leadoff man Murphy.
At age 37, Batista, who has not gone on the disabled list since 1999, has been unable to shake off his hurts the way he's accustomed to. It's been a seasonlong struggle, with foot, back and a groin problem that's been around awhile.
And now Batista, relatively untradeable only midway through a three-year, $25 million deal, finds himself getting slowly squeezed from the rotation by the likes of R.A. Dickey and Ryan Rowland-Smith. The bullpen isn't any less crowded either, with J.J. Putz expected back off the disabled list within a few weeks.
Riggleman said the injury isn't serious, though he'll give Batista until after the All-Star break to get his body right.
"I hope that we can get this behind him and he'll be in the rotation when we come out of the break," Riggleman said.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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