Montgomery hits bump in the road

Montgomery hits bump in the road

SEATTLE -- Mike Montgomery did his part Thursday night, pitching well for his fourth straight start in place of the injured James Paxton. But this time the rookie southpaw didn't get much help as the Giants handed the Mariners a 7-0 loss at Safeco Field.

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Manager Lloyd McClendon said the youngster has been "a pleasant surprise" since being called up on June 2 and deserved a better fate than his final line of four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

"I thought he was outstanding," McClendon said. "He did a tremendous job for us. He settled down after that shaky second inning and really gave us quality innings."

McClendon on loss, Montgomery

The 25-year-old is now 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA. He was just the fourth Mariners rookie to record three straight quality starts to begin his career. And while that streak ended in Thursday's loss, not all that fell on the youngster's shoulders.

With the bases loaded and one out in the second, Montgomery got Giants shortstop Joaquin Arias to hit a grounder to substitute second baseman Dustin Ackley, filling in for a sore-backed Robinson Cano. Ackley fielded the ball cleanly and flipped to shortstop Brad Miller for the force at second, but Miller couldn't complete the inning-ending double play as the ball slipped from his grasp on the transfer.

Arias' RBI grounder

"Perfect feed," said Miller. "I just dropped it."

That allowed one run to cross the plate and the Giants quickly made it 3-0 on a single by Nori Aoki and a double by Joe Panik.

Montgomery insisted the misplay didn't impact what happened next.

"No. I made the pitch I wanted to make, and it was a tough play," he said. "It was close. For me, it doesn't make a difference. I have to go out there and make quality pitches. The next couple guys I left balls over the plate and that's what I'd want to take back.

"Other than that, later in the game I started making better pitches and getting quick outs and they were hacking early. It's just keeping us in the game, that was my plan after that inning."

Montgomery ended the second-inning uprising with a flyout by Angel Pagan and proceeded to retire 10 straight batters before a leadoff walk to Buster Posey in the sixth. And he cruised into the eighth still trailing just 3-0 before being lifted following a one-out single to Pagan, who eventually scored off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.

So while Montgomery's final line didn't look sterling, he felt good about his performance.

"Physically, I felt really good. Probably the best since I've been here," he said. "Really it was just a couple small things in that one inning on a couple different pitches I might have left over when I was ahead that could have been the difference."

The former Royals first-round Draft pick continues learning. His latest lesson, he said, was to stay aggressive when he gets ahead in counts. And four games into his budding career, he's certainly not taking anything for granted.

"I feel like I have to battle every time," he said. "Nothing is easy in this game. Every time I go out there, I just have to compete and try to put up zeros."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.