SEATTLE – Two runs seemed like a dozen, given what the Seattle Mariners had experienced since they last experienced the joy of crossing home plate.
To turn those two into a victory Tuesday night at Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners got the next most precious thing – pitching. One day after the L.A. Angels pummeled one Mariners rookie pitcher, another shut them down.
Doug Fister held the Angels to five hits and a run in 71/3 innings to carry the Mariners to a 2-1 victory.
Mike Sweeney drove home Franklin Gutierrez with a single in the first inning, breaking an 18-inning scoring drought going back to Saturday, and Jose Lopez’s double in the seventh scored Gutierrez from first base to break a 1-1 tie.
Fister’s sixth big-league start was his best, topping the eight-hit, three-run outing in seven innings two weeks ago to beat the Yankees. It also was a huge comeback after the Royals clocked him for three home runs in an unimpressive defeat last Thursday.
“It’s awfully easy to believe in a guy like Doug Fister, especially after a couple of the games he’s thrown in his young career already, shutting down the New York Yankees and shutting down the Angels,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “His poise, his presence, everything on the mound, he looked great. We had enough confidence to send him back out there in the eighth. Just a phenomenal job.”
Fister had either the good fortune or misfortune of pitching one day after the Angels thrashed rookie left-hander Luke French on Monday. The lesson he learned?
“I kept the ball down,” said Fister, economizing his words as well as his pitches. “That was my main focus.”
He even got Vladimir Guerrero out three times, including a huge double-play grounder to shortstop in the fourth inning after Torii Hunter led off with a single.
“He’s a great hitter,” Fister said. “Sometimes he’s going to get himself out.”
The Angels got only one more hit off Fister, a leadoff double by Maicer Izturis to start the eighth inning. The fact that Wakamatsu let Fister come out in the eighth spoke to the confidence the manager already has in the right-hander.
“A rough guesstimate is about 10 starts to really be able to take a look at a guy,” Wakamatsu said. “But it’s hard to argue with who he’s facing. We’ll continue to watch him, but at least he’s proven he can get some awfully good hitters out. That’s a heck of a starting point.”
Fister retired Erick Aybar to get the first out in the eighth before Wakamatsu turned to the best of his bullpen to finish. Fister faced only 26 batters, four over the minimum, and he became the fourth Mariners rookie to pitch at least six innings in each of his first five starts.
Mark Lowe got two fly outs to end the top of the eighth, giving him a string of 61/3 scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 3.05.
Closer David Aardsma faced the strength of the Angels’ lineup in the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Bobby Abreu, then locked down his 32nd save.
Aardsma struck out Kendry Morales with a 94 mph fastball for the final out.
It preserved the Mariners’ 29th one-run victory this season, two short of the franchise record.