SEATTLE -- Rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon threw six innings of one-run ball as the Pirates snapped a six-game road losing streak with an 8-1 win over the Mariners on Wednesday to split a two-game Interleague series at Safeco Field.
Taillon, making just his fifth Major League start, allowed six hits with no walks and six strikeouts as the 2012 first-round Draft pick improved to 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Sean Rodriguez racked up four RBIs on a pair of doubles and David Freese hit his seventh homer of the season to pace an 11-hit attack for the Pirates, who improved to 38-41.
All three pitches were effective tonight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Taillon. "The two-seam fastball had good sink. The four-seamer stayed true. He used it inside. The curveball played. He was able to bounce it at times. ... He had command throughout the outing."
Wade Miley, activated off the 15-day disabled list to start for the Mariners, gave up seven hits and five runs in four innings as he fell to 6-4 with a 5.58 ERA. Seattle, which had won three of its last four, dropped back to .500 at 39-39
"Obviously it wasn't very good," said Miley. "I just kind of battled from beginning to end. I have to get better. I have to make some adjustments and do something differently. This was on me. That entire game is on me."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Taillon overcomes: Taillon, coming off two subpar outings, looked like his troubles would continue in the first inning, when he gave up singles to two of the first three hitters and had to face Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz with one out and runners on first and second. But Taillon got Cruz to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play and pitched three subsequent perfect innings before Kyle Seager led off the fifth inning with a double.
"Getting through a clean first inning really gets you going in the right direction," Taillon said. More >
Pirates strike first: Freese got things going in the third inning about as quickly as a player can -- by belting the first pitch he saw from Miley into the right-field seats for an opposite-field home run that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Starling Marte singled, then Miley hit Rodriguez with a pitch and Josh Harrison cashed in with a two-run double that made it 3-0.
Karns becomes a reliever:Nathan Karns made his debut out of the Mariners' bullpen hurling strikeouts. In his first appearance since changing roles from starter to reliever, Karns took the mound in the sixth inning and struck out the side. He struck out three more in the seventh, two with the bases loaded, and he didn't allow a run. It was his second outing as a reliever in the big leagues. More >
That one hurt: Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger fractured the third metacarpal bone in his right hand after being hit by a foul tip off the bat of Andrew McCutchen in the third inning and was replaced by Chris Iannetta. Clevenger, acquired from the Orioles in the offseason, has hit .221 in 22 games as Iannetta's backup, but he's now headed to the disabled list as the Mariners will need to bring up a replacement, likely Mike Zunino from Triple-A Tacoma.
"That's part of being a catcher," said Clevenger. "Sometimes things like that happen. It hit me pretty square." More >
"We have played sloppy, quite frankly, at times. The amount of errors we have made is concerning, especially in the last month. We have to tighten it up. Those aren't difficult plays, they're plays our guys know should be made. You can't win games doing that." -- Mariners manager Scott Servais, after his club committed a season-high three errors
"He was on his game. He just kept getting back out there, going right after guys. He wasn't settling for trying to make a big pitch. He was just like, 'Here you go. Here's my stuff and let's see what you've got.'" -- Rodriguez, on Taillon
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Karns' six strikeouts are the most in a game by a Mariners reliever this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: After an off-day in San Francisco on Thursday -- Hurdle said he'll take a boat ride in the Bay -- Pittsburgh continues its West Coast swing with a weekend three-game Interleague series against the Athletics in Oakland. Left-hander Jeff Locke (7-5, 5.12 ERA) will get the ball for the Pirates in Friday's opener against A's righty Sonny Gray (3-6, 5.03 ERA).
Mariners: The Mariners will face the Orioles in a four-game series at home beginning Thursday. Taijuan Walker is scheduled to take the mound for Seattle in the series opener. The right-hander missed his last start with tendinitis in his right foot. The Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the hill. Tillman has a 3.52 ERA over 16 starts.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Pirates on Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.