SEATTLE — Jarrod Washburn is pitching better than ever in his 12th major league season.
Washburn tossed a one-hitter for his ninth career complete game, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 5-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
“It’s the best stuff I’ve ever had,” he said.
Nick Markakis had the only hit off Washburn (4-5), a two-out single in the fourth. Washburn faced just one batter over the minimum, issuing no walks and striking out three in his 110-pitch effort.
Russell Branyan hit his 21st homer, Chris Woodward doubled in a pair of runs and Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI single for Seattle.
Washburn recorded the second one-hitter at Safeco Field and 10th in franchise history. It also was his first complete-game win since he beat the Oakland Athletics 2-0 on April 25, 2007, with one of his two three-hit games, his previous career low.
“I think he’s pitching as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He has more command of certain pitches.”
Washburn, who was 5-14 with Seattle last year, said the biggest key to his success this season has been his two-seam fastball. He worked on it in spring training with pitching coach Rick Adair and bullpen coach John Wetteland.
“I’ve always had a two-seam fastball but it’s never sunk before,” he said. “The mechanical adjustments we made in spring training – Rick and Wette – they made a little adjustment with me and it’s paid off. That’s what I owe it all to, that mechanical adjustment.”
Washburn threw mostly fastballs against the Orioles, mixing in a handful of breaking pitches and one changeup. He threw a two-seamer to Markakis that broke in on his hands, and he sliced it into shallow left field.
“If it wasn’t for Nick’s little hit out there to left, he’s got a perfect game,” Baltimore designated hitter Aubrey Huff said. “He was that good.”
Brad Bergesen (5-3) went six innings for the Orioles, allowing four runs, three earned, and six hits. He walked four and struck out four.
“I’ll take Bred Bergesen for the way he pitches, the way he competes, the way he keeps us in the game,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “It just so happened that Washburn was much better tonight.”
Branyan connected on a 3-0 pitch in the first and Suzuki singled in Rob Johnson in the fifth to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Woodward tacked on a bases-loaded double in the sixth and Ryan Langerhans added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
All systems go for Bedard
Given Erik Bedard’s history with the Mariners, his return from the disabled list won’t be certain until he takes the mound tonight against the Orioles. There was nothing Monday to indicate Bedard will give the Mariners anything less than the 75-80 pitches they expect in his first game since June 7.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said Bedard has felt good since throwing impressively in a 54-pitch simulated game Saturday in Boston.
“That’s probably as good as I’ve seen him,” Wakamatsu said. “The effort level was very minimal, the ball came out of his hand well … and he had no ill effects. All the signs are looking good.”
Bedard missed most of the final three months last season because of a shoulder problem that eventually required surgery after a few false hopes that he’d be able to pitch.
Bedard went 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 11 starts this season before the shoulder became tender again. An MRI last month didn’t show any damage.