Mariners' offense held in check by Billingsley

Mariners' offense held in check by Billingsley

Mariners' offense held in check by Billingsley
SEATTLE -- Whatever offensive momentum was gained by the Mariners on their recent road trip seemingly ground to a halt this weekend against the Dodgers, who pulled off a series victory with an 8-2 win on Sunday.

The Mariners totaled just five hits on the day and six runs and 17 hits for the three-game Interleague set.

Other than a first-inning home run by Kyle Seager, Seattle was silenced in the series finale by Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley until pushing across a run against reliever Shawn Tolleson in the ninth.

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Seattle is batting .192 and averaging 3.2 runs a game in 25 outings at Safeco Field, as opposed to .257 and 4.8 runs a game on the road. But on the flip side, Mariners pitchers have a 3.44 ERA and .219 batting average against at home compared with 4.71 and .259 on the road.

Manager Eric Wedge acknowledged his team has to "get over the hump" offensively at Safeco but feels that will come with time now that his club -- which played only 22 of its first 59 games in Seattle -- is starting a more-favorable home schedule.

"I think being home more will help," he said. "If you can hit, you can hit. I think with what we did on this last road trip and the confidence that these guys gained and some of the things they did against some very good teams and some good pitchers, it's going to carry over to us here at home, as well."

After averaging 7.3 runs a game and batting .281 on their last nine-game trip, the Mariners aren't ready to accept their Safeco struggles as being a permanent thing.

"We really don't separate the two," Seager insisted. "It's all baseball for us. It's all games. We don't look at it as, 'Well, we're playing well on the road and struggling at home.' We look at it more like, right now we were playing pretty good baseball coming into this series. We got the big one in the first game and they came back and won these next two. We'll have the off-day tomorrow and come back and get 'em then."

But Billingsley kept the Mariners at bay with his tough mix of off-speed offerings a day after Clayton Kershaw held them to four hits in seven innings. And the right-hander got all the help he needed in a six-run second inning, highlighted by Andre Ethier's grand slam off Blake Beavan.

"At that point, early in the game, that at-bat was just a game-changer right there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It took the pressure off 'Bills' and he could go out there and put up zeros."

Ethier's blast led to a brief outing for Beavan, who lasted just two frames before being replaced by Hisashi Iwakuma. It was the 23-year-old's shortest start in his two seasons in the Majors and his record fell to 3-6 with a 5.92 ERA.

Beavan has surrendered four home runs over his last six innings and is 1-2 with an 11.77 ERA in his past three starts, but Wedge wasn't ready to discuss whether he might lose his spot in the rotation.

"There's nothing going on with anything right now," Wedge said. "We don't make any rash decisions like that. He's a young pitcher, he's had some success up here. He's a guy that knows what he needs to do to be successful and he's proven that will work up here, but he has to get back to doing that."

The Dodgers (39-22) poured six runs across on Beavan in the second on two walks and four hits, with Ethier's slam the big blow. The Mariners (27-35) nearly escaped that jam when Seager made a diving attempt to tag Tony Gwynn at third base after cutting off a throw from left fielder Mike Carp on an RBI single by Dee Gordon.

But the ball dislodged from Seager's glove, leaving runners at second and third with two outs. Beavan then walked Elian Herrera before Ethier unloaded his 10th home run of the season to clear the bases.

"I think if I hold onto that, he's out," Seager said. "I watched the replay and I believe I'd gotten to him before he got to the bag, but the ball just kind of got loose in the impact with him."

Beavan could have been out of that frame either with Seager hanging on or Carp making a catch on the ball that died just in front of him, but wound up instead with an early exit.

"I really don't think I'm making that bad of pitches," he said. "I think it's just kind of bad luck right now. The last two games I thought I made a lot of good pitches, gave up some runs on good pitches. Today, the grand slam, if I don't walk two guys right there and make a pitch right there and get a call, it saves four runs. But I have to do a better job of getting ahead of guys and putting them away."

The Mariners slowed the runaway there, with Iwakuma and Charlie Furbush holding the Dodgers scoreless on just one hit over the next five frames until they jumped on Brandon League for two runs on four hits in the eighth.

Iwakuma pitched in just five games the first two months of the season, but has now made four appearances in the past nine days in June. He threw 1 1/3 innings on Saturday, then came back Sunday and tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with one hit and three walks.

Furbush was perfect in 2 2/3 innings with three strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 2.78 as he hasn't allowed a run in his last eight outings.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.