Blackburn struggles early in loss to Mariners

Blackburn struggles early in loss to Mariners

Blackburn struggles early in loss to Mariners
SEATTLE -- The sun was shining bright over Safeco Field for the Twins' Sunday matinee against the Mariners.

Unfortunately for the Twins, the outcome for them was as dreary as the Seattle skies are normally in a 5-2 loss.

Starter Nick Blackburn struggled from the get-go, and the Twins quickly found themselves in a hole. The right-hander threw six straight balls to open the game before he finally located the zone. But once Blackburn did throw strikes, the Mariners made him pay.

Jesus Montero hit a one-out double down the left-field line to score Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan, and Kyle Seager followed with a drive off the right-field wall for a long RBI single to put the Mariners up 3-0 in the first.

"Wasn't a very good start to the game for us," Twins acting manager Scott Ullger said. "[Blackburn] walked the two guys and then two balls rolled through the infield, hence three runs. I thought he was kind of feeling for the ball, wasn't aggressive until later on in the game."

Blackburn fared slightly better as the game progressed, but Seattle added a run in both the second and fourth. In the second, Mike Carp launched a towering home run to right field and Ackley tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

"It's good, especially with our pitching staff," Carp said of the Mariners' early lead. "If we can score some runs early, we know they're going to come in and dominate the rest of the game. It's nice to get up early and let [starter Hector] Noesi have some comfort behind him, let him relax and just go out there and do what he does."

Blackburn finally settled down and put the Mariners away 1-2-3 in the fifth and used a double play to face the minimum in the sixth, but his pitch count caught up to him and he exited after six innings. Blackburn gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks, threw 98 pitches and was stuck with the loss. Minnesota is now 4-10 when its starters last at least six innings.

The Twins finally got to Noesi in the seventh as Ryan Doumit, a native of Moses Lake -- a town that's about a three-hour drive from Seattle -- took the righty deep to right field for a solo shot. Doumit added another solo home run in the top of the ninth for his fifth career multi-homer game.

"Positive was Doumit," Ullger said. "He had two home runs, a single and a walk, 3-for-3. Maybe that can trigger some of the other guys. Like I said, hitting is contagious and maybe we can catch what he's got."

The loss dropped the Twins to 1-5 on the six-game West Coast road swing. They scored just eight runs during that span.

"It hasn't been a fun season for anyone, but all we can do is keep playing," Blackburn said. "Go out there and just start winning.

"I'm not concerned about the guys in the clubhouse, I don't think that anyone's going to just lay down. Obviously it doesn't mean we're going to turn it around next series, but we're still going to go out there and we're going to try to do what we've always done. Hopefully it turns around for us soon -- it has to or it's going to be a real long season."

Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jlieb24. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.