Nuno pays for mistakes to O's Jones

Nuno pays for mistakes to O's Jones

SEATTLE -- Vidal Nuno knew the scouting report on Adam Jones heading into Monday night's game. His best bet was to stay away and force Jones to hit something weakly to the right side.

With two outs in the first inning, Nuno tried exactly that on a 1-1 slider. The pitch was on the outside part of the plate, but it was up in the zone, and Jones capitalized.

Jones launched the pitch from Nuno 413 feet to center field for his 18th home run of the season and Baltimore's first run of the game in a 3-2 Mariners loss.

Jones' solo homer

Nuno, making his second start for the Mariners, didn't make many mistakes in Monday night's loss, but when he did, they were mistakes to Jones, and they were costly. The 27-year-old, who was selected by the Mariners with the 37th-overall pick in the 2003 Draft, notched extra-base hits in his first two at-bats to score the only runs against Nuno in an otherwise effective five-inning outing.

"He just left one pitch up. Actually, two pitches to Adam Jones," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He did a pretty nice job, and got up to almost 100 pitches."

The 28-year-old lefty, who appeared in 18 games with the Mariners as a reliever before being moved to the rotation to fill in for a traded J.A. Happ, looked sharper in his second start for Seattle. He struck out five hitters and walked none after walking three in 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies on Wednesday.

His troubles came more with his pitch count than his command. Nuno threw 13 pitches to Orioles outfielder Gerardo Parra with one out in the first before getting Parra to fly out to left. He allowed just one run in the fourth -- an RBI single to Chris Davis that scored Jones -- but labored through a 27-pitch inning after allowing three straight hits.

Davis' RBI single

Otherwise, Nuno was around the strike zone and saw improved results, exiting with the Mariners trailing, 2-1, after 94 pitches.

"It was just attacking the zone," Nuno said. "The middle of their lineup is red-hot right now. It was just two mistakes that just hurt me a little bit. Bottom line though, just attacked the zone and that's how I kept us in the ballgame."

McClendon wouldn't commit to the idea of keeping Nuno in the rotation long-term when asked about the lefty before Monday's game. He didn't say Nuno's run was over, either. Instead, he said he would stick with Nuno "as it stands now."

As it stands now, Nuno's Monday night start was his 17th straight without a win dating back to 2014. But it was one in which he kept the Mariners within striking distance, all the while learning a valuable lesson about pitching to Adam Jones.

"Stay away from him," Nuno said.

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.