Bullpen does heavy lifting in win

Bullpen does heavy lifting in win

DENVER -- It's no surprise to see a bullpen get a workout at Coors Field. In Monday's 6-5 win over the Rockies, the Mariners used six relievers to cover four innings. They allowed a hit, a walk, and no runs while striking out five.

"They just take the ball, and if they're fresh, they're really good," manager Scott Servais said. "Hopefully you get into these tighter games which we have now and go to the matchups. It's kind of how our bullpen was designed."

The six-pack of relievers shut down a Rockies team that had outscored opponents 158-106 over the 29 games leading up to Monday's.

"We just couldn't break through against their many relievers that came in the game," said Rockies manager Bud Black.

The heavy lifting began with southpaw James Pazos, who entered in the sixth after starter Sam Gaviglio gave up back-to-back hits to open the inning. He got four big outs to set up the rest of the bullpen mixing and matching.

"Pazos has been key for us all year [because of] his ability to run through the right-handed hitters as well as the lefties," Servais said. "Enough breaking ball to keep them off the fastball, and the fastball's got a lot of life."

Servais went to righty Tony Zych to finish the seventh, then used Nick Vincent, lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and Dan Altavilla for the eighth before turning the ball over to Edwin Diaz to close out the ninth and continue the 'pen's streak of 11 batters faced without a base hit.

"It's nice to be able to use those guys when we have the lead like we did," catcher Mike Zunino said. "They had great arms, and they pieced together perfect."

It was a moment of truth for rookie Altavilla, 24, to strike out Mark Reynolds -- who's hitting .313 with a team-high 13 homers and 44 RBIs -- with the potential tying run on base in the eighth.

"Good for him," Servais said. "He stepped up, got behind the count to Reynolds, made a good 2-0 pitch, then a really good slider at 2-2. He's throwing the ball much better. He's pitching now instead of just going out there and chucking it. He walked off the mound with a big smile on his face. It's good to see young players feeling that way."

From there, it was all Diaz, who struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to record his ninth save of the season.

"He's clicking on four cylinders now," said Zunino.

"The command of the fastball is the big thing," Servais said of Diaz. "When he does that, the slider doesn't have to be perfect and it's got good bite. When you can work the game to have that anchor in the ninth, it is so, so valuable. We have the pieces to do that but you've got to have that guy at the back end. Eddie looks the part again. He's got it back."

Diaz showed that momentum isn't just the next day's starting pitcher. On Monday, it was the five relievers that preceded their closer.

"The bullpen did a great job today," said Diaz. "I came into the ninth relaxed with a lot of confidence. I made my pitches and we got the win. That's the most important thing."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver, who covered the Mariners on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.