M’s Fister flirts with no-hitter
SEATTLE — In Doug Fister’s last outing, the Seattle Mariners needed Milton Bradley’s eighth-inning homer to break out in a tense scoreless tie against Oakland.
On Monday, there was no such drama in the Mariners’ 8-2 victory over Baltimore, unless you count Fister’s mounting bid for a no-hitter, which finally ended with a leadoff single by the Orioles’ Nick Markakis in the seventh.
After Markakis grounded the ball sharply up the middle on a 2-1 pitch, the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history, 14,528, rose to salute Fister with a standing ovation. He was bidding to throw the first no-hitter by a Mariners pitcher since Chris Bosio against Boston on April 22, 1993 — 17 years ago Friday.
Markakis’s clean hit was quickly erased by a nifty double play started by shortstop Jack Wilson, ending a string of 10 hitless innings by Fister. He had finished his last start by holding the A’s hitless over his final four innings.
The Orioles broke Fister’s scoreless streak at 14 innings in the seventh on a two-out, run-scoring double by Luke Scott. But it was another highly encouraging, and hugely impressive, outing by the 26-year-old Fister, who exited after seven having allowed three hits and just that one run. He walked one, hit one batter, and struck out three while lowering his earned-run average to 1.42.
The Mariners broke the game open with a big seven-run third inning to knock out Orioles starter Brad Bergesen.
The Mariners used power, daring on the bases and shoddy Baltimore defense in the third to bury the Orioles, now 2-12. The M’s have won five of their last six to get back to .500.
Rob Johnson started and ended the third with outs. In between, Seattle used two singles, two doubles, two walks, a costly error and Casey Kotchman’s two-run homer to chase Bergesen.
The pitcher never seemed to recover from Wilson’s one-out double into the left-field corner, the first of Wilson’s three hits. Lou Montanez appeared to have a chance to gun him down at second, but Baltimore second baseman Julio Lugo couldn’t handle the throw.
Ichiro and Chone Figgins walked to load the bases, and Franklin Gutierrez delivered a run-scoring single to left. Jose Lopez grounded to third baseman Ty Wigginton, who booted the potential double-play ball as Ichiro scored. Ken Griffey Jr. then grounded a two-run single into right, raising his season RBI total from one to three.
On Bradley’s subsequent double, Lopez scored, and Griffey tried to replicate his legendary dash home from first on Edgar’s double in the 1995 playoffs. Alas, he doesn’t have quite the same bounce in his step at age 40 and was thrown out. Kotchman followed with his third homer of the season to right, knocking out Bergesen. Kotchman added an RBI double in the seventh and leads the M’s with 12 RBI.
Second baseman Figgins had a big hand in preserving Fister’s gem, backhanding Scott’s liner in the fifth, and then ranging far to his left to spear Cesar Izturis’s hard grounder in the sixth. Figgins spun and threw a one-hopper to Fister covering to nail Izturis by half a step.
Left fielder Bradley made a nice running catch of a Markakis drive to the warning track in the seventh, and Ichiro made a shoestring grab of Matt Wieters’ sinking liner to end the first.