LOS ANGELES — As Adrian Beltre went around the clubhouse Sunday hugging his teammates, he had the same message for each one: “Stay healthy.”
Beltre’s mission now, of course, is to get healthy. He has reluctantly opted to leave the Seattle Mariners in midseason to repair an increasingly painful left shoulder. Beltre will undergo surgery Tuesday to remove bone spurs and is expected to be out six to eight weeks.
Before leaving, he opted to play one last game, and in the Mariners’ 4-2 victory over the Dodgers, he gave a glimpse of the huge hole they’ll have to fill in his absence.
He made several fine defensive plays, including one sprawling stop to rob Russell Martin of a hit. Beltre also drove in a run with a clutch single in the third.
“For me, the story of the day is really about Beltre,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He’s a guy that’s played in a lot of pain. He didn’t have to play today – didn’t need to play. He came in and said, ‘I want to be with my teammates. I want to gut it out.’
“His presence in this lineup is going to be sorely missed.”
The Mariners’ vital nine-game trip into treacherous territory is off to an excellent start, Beltre’s pending absence notwithstanding. Despite dropping the opener Friday, the Mariners took two out of three from the Dodgers, who possess the best record in baseball.
“You see Beltre coming to play today, these are the things that make this a special group, a close-knit group,” Wakamatsu said.
What lies ahead for the Mariners in the post-Beltre world is murky, but the third baseman is hoping a pennant race awaits him upon his return.
Asked what was going through his mind as David Aardsma nailed down his 16th save, Beltre said: “How am I going to handle it, watching these guys play on TV? It’s not going to be easy.
“I’m just thinking about getting healthy and being back here as soon as possible. And I believe they’re going to keep doing good and stay in the hunt.”
The biggest contribution to Sunday’s win came from the bullpen after starter Garrett Olson made it through five solid innings before wilting a bit in the SoCal heat. Miguel Batista, Mark Lowe and Aardsma finished up with four scoreless innings.
“To me, they really won the game,” Olson said. “From the sixth inning on is some of the toughest in any game, especially coming here.”
The Mariners did all their scoring in the second and third innings off Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, with resurgent Jose Lopez doing the heaviest damage. Lopez had three hits, scored a run and drove in two on a double over the head of center fielder Matt Kemp.
Mariners 4, Dodgers 2
|Griffey Jr. lf||4||0||0||0||0||0||.218|
a-singled for J.Castro in the 7th. b-grounded out for Belisario in the 7th. c-struck out for M.Lowe in the 9th. E—Kuroda (1). LOB—Seattle 6, Los Angeles 5. 2B—Jo.Lopez (13), Martin (10). HR—Kemp (10), off Olson. RBIs—Beltre (31), Jo.Lopez 2 (46), F.Gutierrez (27), Ethier (50), Kemp (41). SB—Jo.Lopez (1), F.Gutierrez (5). CS—Martin (4). S—Kuroda. SF—Ethier. RLSP—Seattle 3 (Cedeno, F.Gutierrez, Beltre); Los Angeles 2 (Kemp, Pierre). RMU—Ausmus.
|Olson W, 3-2||5||4||2||2||1||3||72||4.81|
|Batista H, 7||2||1||0||0||1||0||26||2.93|
|M.Lowe H, 9||1||0||0||0||0||1||18||3.28|
|Aardsma S, 16-17||1||0||0||0||0||1||11||1.49|
|Kuroda L, 2-4||6 1/3||8||4||4||0||5||102||3.77|
IR-S—Leach 1-0, Belisario 2-0. HBP—by Olson (Pierre), by Leach (Branyan). T—2:49. A—49,355 (56,000).