Millwood, Mariners swept up in rainy finale

Millwood, Mariners swept up in rainy finale

Millwood, Mariners swept up in rainy finale
CHICAGO -- A steady rain and some unsteady defense made things difficult for the Mariners on Sunday, but in the end it was a two-run home run by Tyler Flowers in the wake of a mid-game delay that propelled the White Sox to a 4-3 weather-shortened win at soggy U.S. Cellular Field.

On Kevin Millwood's second pitch after a six-minute stoppage with two outs in the bottom of the seventh so the grounds crew could spread Diamond Dry on the rain-soaked infield, Flowers ripped the go-ahead home run. Two batters later, the game was halted and eventually called by umpires after another one-hour and 55-minute wait.

It was a tough way to end things for Millwood and the Mariners, who'd fought hard to overcome the conditions -- and the White Sox -- on a gray afternoon on the South Side. But Millwood refused to blame the delay for the game-winning home run.

"It wasn't that tough, it was just weird and different," he said of the short delay before Flowers' long ball. "I thought he said they were going to put the tarp on, but they just put the Diamond Dry on. Nobody knew what to do so we were just standing around. But either way, it didn't affect what happened."

So what did happen?

"I threw one good slider and then didn't get the next one away," Millwood said. "For the most part, I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to all day. Then, when I really needed to, I didn't."

After an initial one-hour, 51-minute rain delay before the first pitch, the two teams played through a continuous mid-afternoon downpour in order to get in the final game of their season series.

The good news was the game went long enough to be official, in spite of the lousy weather. The bad news, for the Mariners, is they couldn't reverse their tough trend at U.S. Cellular Field, where they've lost 19 of their last 22 games.

The seven-inning victory provided a series sweep for the White Sox, who finished the season battle with an 8-1 advantage and are 24-4 against Seattle in the past three years.

This one took a new twist with the eventual three hours and 56 minutes of delays and the difficult ending, which left some unhappy people in the Mariners clubhouse.

"That last inning, it was tough sitting around," said right fielder Eric Thames. "I felt like my uniform weighed 15-20 pounds with all the water and dirt. The umpires didn't call it, then there was the home run. We were all pretty upset about that, but that's just the way it goes."

Manager Eric Wedge said the umpires were trying to do the best they could in difficult circumstances, but that the way it played out clearly cost his club.

"They're just working off the information they're getting," Wedge said. "Nobody can predict the weather. But they're getting the best information they can from the people that are supposed to know. And the information wasn't very good today, so it worked against us.

"But hey, we've still got to play baseball. I wish we could have finished it off. Our kids are playing so hard right now, they're fighting," said Wedge. "We could have won all three of these games here, too, but unfortunately we finished on the south side of it."

Casper Wells hit a two-run blast in the fifth inning off reliever Hector Santiago to give Seattle a 3-2 lead, but Millwood couldn't quite hold on.

"Who knows how it might have turned out?" Wells said. "It seems like in this ballpark, one run you're not too secure with, as evidenced by the last couple games. We came up a little short today and the weather kind of worked to our disadvantage, but we'll go out and try to get going again tomorrow."

The White Sox scored an unearned run in the second after shortstop Brendan Ryan had a waist-high hop bounce out of his glove, then added another in the third as Thames made an ill-advised dive at a low liner by Kevin Youkilis that turned into an RBI triple as it scooted under his glove and rolled to the wall.

"It was just a bad decision," said Wedge. "I like the aggressiveness to a point, but we can't be overly aggressive at that point in time in the game. But again, it's a fine line because you don't want to take something away from them in regard to how hard they're playing and what they're trying to do. If he makes that catch, it's a great play."

Thames said the ball spun away as he dove.

"It was weird," he said. "I thought I had a chance to catch it on the fly and I laid out, but the ball had a little English on it going that way at the last second. That never happens, so I'm very upset about that. It won't happen again."

The Mariners got one run in the first off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who lasted just two innings before being replaced by lefty Hector Santiago after feeling discomfort in his right elbow.

Santiago retired the first six Mariners he faced until Justin Smoak singled leading off the fifth. Wells then ended an 0-for-16 slump with his two-run shot, driving a 3-2 changeup for his eighth home run.

The Mariners had a chance to add to their 3-2 lead in the seventh, but Nate Jones struck out Trayvon Robinson with the bases loaded.

Millwood then gave up a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh, followed by Flowers' bomb on his final pitch. The 37-year-old gave up seven hits and four runs (three earned) over 6 2/3 innings, his record falling to 4-11 with a 4.28 ERA.

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.