Mariners come up short in 14-inning affair

Mariners come up short in 14-inning affair

Mariners come up short in 14-inning affair
ST. PETERSBURG -- On a night the Mariners were down to their final reliever and catcher Miguel Olivo was starting to warm up in the bullpen in case he'd be needed to pitch, Tampa Bay finally pulled out a 4-3 win in the 14th-inning Friday on Ben Zobrist's RBI double off closer Tom Wilhelmsen.

The win at Tropicana Field was the Rays' fifth straight over Seattle this season and ninth in a row over two years, but this one figured to be the most painful given the duration and drain on Seattle's bullpen.

With reliever Shawn Kelley not available due to illness, the Mariners were down to Wilhelmsen as their last available arm when Zobrist ended it with his shot down the first-base line just beyond the glove of Justin Smoak, allowing Carlos Pena to score from first.

Manager Eric Wedge said Wilhelmsen might have had one more inning in him, but the lanky reliever said he was prepared to go "until we won." Unfortunately for the Mariners, that opportunity never came as they had just one hit in the extra innings and five for the entire game.

"That's what you play for," said Wilhelmsen, who fell to 3-2 with the loss. "You like those games. Those are fun. Not perhaps for the spectators that left early, but that's what the game is about. Competitive battle, grind, grind, grind."

Hisashi Iwakuma gave the Mariners six solid innings in his best start since joining the rotation and Carlos Peguero provided his first home run of the season with a two-run shot in the seventh, but Seattle otherwise spun its wheels for much of the 4-hour, 46-minute marathon.

"We just weren't able to get anything going offensively in extra innings," said Wedge, whose team finished 5-for-48 with 17 strikeouts on the long night.

Outfielder Casper Wells said the Mariners might have been dragging a little after playing in 102-degree heat in an afternoon game in Kansas City on Thursday.

"Peguero put us on top and I thought that was the momentum swing right there," Wells said. "But it was just kind of a tough day, especially coming from that heat yesterday. I think a lot of the guys were probably exhausted and that might have led to some of the at-bats, just the focus and endurance might not have been there.

"But their pitching was good," said Wells, who had one of Seattle's RBIs with a first-inning double. "Give them credit. They didn't make a lot of mistakes. It was just two good-pitching ballclubs. Our guys did a tremendous job and it would have been nice to get a couple runs across to give them a little breathing room."

The Mariners got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th when reliever Josh Kinney got pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to pop out to left. Kinney did it again to Matsui in the 12th, striking out the veteran lefty with runners on first and second and two out.

Kinney, promoted from Triple-A Tacoma three weeks ago, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

"Kinney had some tough spots. They made it tough on us," Wedge said. "They kept getting the leadoff runner on, and that makes it tough in this type of game. But he kept making pitches. We took him as far as we could. It was a great effort on his part."

Wilhelmsen then pitched a perfect 13th before wavering in the 14th when Pena singled with one out and Zobrist got a hold of a fastball and drove it down the line.

"He throws pretty hard," Zobrist said. "If he threw me an off-speed pitch, I was going to take it early in the count. I was just looking for the heater and thankfully he left one up enough that I could hit it hard."

Ichiro Suzuki fielded the ball down the line and overthrew the cutoff man, with Pena getting home before the ball got to catcher Jesus Montero on a couple of hops.

"The ball was hit really hard," Wedge said. "We had Smoak on the line there and it just shot right by him. 'Ichi' did a good job going and getting the ball and made a strong throw, but he overthrew [Dustin] Ackley there in that situation. Smoak did a nice job letting [the throw] go because that's the only way we'd have a play and [Pena] barely got in there."

Seattle made the most of its four hits in regulation, with Ichiro tripling and scoring on Wells' double in the first and Peguero launching a 429-foot bomb after Kyle Seager singled in the seventh. Otherwise, it was a night of futility for a Mariners team that had seen its offense break out in a four-game series in Kansas City.

But Kinney said the club showed some things in this battle as well.

"We've been playing well on this road trip and battling," said the veteran reliever. "This was one of those games where here we are, almost midnight, and we've got to take a loss. But you know what, all in all we played gutsy ball as a team tonight and we'll come back tomorrow and keep it going."

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.