Orioles Strike Early, Beat Mariners 7-2 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Orioles Strike Early, Beat Mariners 7-2

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by SeattleMariners.com

SEATTLE -- A 13-hit night for the offense and another shutdown performance for a bullpen, which entered Tuesday's game with the second-best ERA in the American League, catapulted the Orioles to a 7-2 series-evening win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

The victory, which puts the Orioles at 16-11 to cap the first month of the season, puts the team at 4-2 on a tough, three-city West Coast trip. And there was plenty to like watching a lineup that saw all starting nine reach base and the relief corps combine to throw four scoreless frames. But if the fate of Baltimore's season rests with the starting pitching, as manager Buck Showalter has said time and time again, Tuesday's win was bittersweet.

Right-hander Jason Hammel, who was the club's Opening Day starter, left without recording an out in the sixth inning as the O's once again called on the bullpen to record double-digit outs.

With the decision prior to the game to demote Monday's starter Zach Britton in favor of another bullpen arm in Zach Clark, the Orioles are trying to keep the relief corps healthy and productive, no easy feat when you consider that they have pitched 38 1/3 innings over the past 11 days. The Orioles, who don't have an off-day until Monday, have played 12 games over that span and the 'pen has pitched to a 2.11 ERA despite the team's starters averaging less than six innings. The team has gone 8-4 over that stretch, with the lineup also chipping in to help mask an inconsistent rotation that has already begun to start a roster carousel similar to last year.

The offense set the tone Tuesday, jumping on Mariners starter Brandon Maurer for four runs in the first inning and working the right-hander for 32 pitches in the process. Red-hot Nate McLouth opened the game with a solo homer and Manny Machado doubled and scored on a pair of wild pitches for a quick two runs. Matt Wieters then drove in the other two with a one-out double down the right-field line that plated Nick Markakis and Chris Davis.

The Mariners, who had bullpen action early, resumed that in the fourth when Wieters worked a leadoff walk and Chris Dickerson's single put runners on the corners. McLouth struck out to end the frame, but it would be the last batter for Maurer, who was removed after four innings in favor of reliever Blake Beavan.

Hammel outlasted Maurer, but labored through five innings and never had a clean frame. Still, he was able to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard until Michael Morse's solo homer to start the bottom of the sixth. Jason Bay and Justin Smoak followed with a pair of singles to spell the end of Hammel's outing, a 102-pitch performance in which he threw 59 strikes.

Hammel, who is the veteran of the Orioles staff, had gone at least six innings in all five starts coming in. Still, the 29-year-old has pitched 35 2/3 innings over six games, for an Orioles club that has had just one starter -- Wei-Yin Chen on Friday -- throw seven or more innings in the team's first 27 games.

The Orioles employed four pitchers behind Hammel -- in Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Darren O'Day and Brian Matusz -- while the offense added to the lead off Beaven. Dickerson, who had one hit in eight at-bats coming into the game, drove in another pair of runs with a one-out, sixth-inning single into center field and J.J. Hardy picked up an RBI in the seventh.

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