July 29, 2010 in Sports

White Sox wear down Vargas

Shortest outing of season for Mariners’ ironman
Geoff Baker Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Jason Vargas lasted 4
(Full-size photo)

CHICAGO – A shrugging Jason Vargas admitted there isn’t much he can do to guard against the downside of an innings count climbing faster than his team’s loss total.

Vargas said he still feels strong, keeps up his weight training and doesn’t suspect any arm fatigue, despite giving up three home runs Wednesday night and lasting fewer than five innings as the Mariners lost 6-5 to the Chicago White Sox.

On a rare night in which the Mariners scored a flurry of early runs, Vargas couldn’t hold a big lead in his shortest outing this season.

“I felt fine today and I’ve felt good throughout the year,” said Vargas, who took a no-decision but saw his earned-run average climb from 2.94 to 3.20. “They made some good swings and I threw a lot of pitches in the first two innings. I think that was their goal, to try to wear me down and get me to throw pitches and they did that tonight.”

They did indeed, making Vargas throw 55 pitches the first two innings. Vargas had a 5-1 lead in the second after Chone Figgins hit his first home run since Sept. 22, a two-run blast off Chicago starter Mark Buehrle.

It was the first right-handed home run for Figgins since July 7, 2006 off Barry Zito.

But Gordon Beckham came right back with a two-run homer off Vargas in the bottom of the second, igniting the crowd of 25,126 at U.S. Cellular Field with a blast that just cleared the right-field fence.

Alexei Ramirez then opened the fifth by drilling the first pitch just over the left-field wall. Paul Konerko tied it with a towering drive deep into the left-field stands on Vargas’s 90th and final pitch.

Chicago went ahead in the seventh when losing pitcher Jamey Wright walked Juan Pierre, who stole second, then was sacrificed to third. Brandon League came on to pitch and got Alex Rios to chop a sinker hard into the ground, but the ball still bounded into the outfield on one hop to bring Pierre home.

Vargas has thrown 126- 2/3 innings this season, only 16 shy of his total last year in the majors and Class AAA. The left-hander has been a rare Seattle success so far, sitting seventh among American League ERA leaders to start the night.

But his road ERA is twice as big as when Vargas pitches at Safeco Field.

The Mariners had given Vargas the lowest run support of any A.L. starter at 3.02 per game. But they had that many runs in the first inning off Buehrle, with Ichiro scoring that frame and again in the second on the Figgins home run. It’s the first time Ichiro scored twice in a game since May 28 and only the fifth time all season.

But it was not to be.

The Mariners have recalled left-hander Luke French from Triple-A Tacoma and sent struggling starter Ryan Rowland-Smith to the disabled list with a strained lower back.

The 27-year-old Rowland-Smith fell to 1-10 with a 6.96 ERA after tying a team record by allowing all 11 runs in Tuesday’s 11-0 loss at Chicago. He has allowed 23 home runs in 22 games.

French will be in his third stint with the Mariners this season.

White Sox 6, Mariners 5

I.Suzuki rf 522000.308
Figgins 2b 522200.235
F.Gutierrez cf 501103.245
Branyan dh 511002.259
Smoak 1b 401101.201
J.Bard c 403000.238
Jo.Wilson 3b 301001.262
M.Saunders lf 400001.236
Ja.Wilson ss 300011.253
Totals 38511419
Pierre lf 221020.257
Al.Ramirez ss 312100.291
Rios dh 402200.310
Konerko 1b 411100.297
Quentin rf 400001.234
Pierzynski c 400000.237
Viciedo 3b 301001.286
Vizquel 3b 100000.276
An.Jones cf 311001.207
Beckham 2b 211210.241
Totals 3069633
Seattle 320000000—5110
Chicago 12002010x—692

E—Al.Ramirez (12), Viciedo (3). LOB—Seattle 9, Chicago 4. 2B—J.Bard (4), An.Jones (7). HR—Figgins (1), off Buehrle; Beckham (5), off J.Vargas; Al.Ramirez (11), off J.Vargas; Konerko (24), off J.Vargas. RBIs—Figgins 2 (25), F.Gutierrez (41), Smoak (39), Al.Ramirez (41), Rios 2 (59), Konerko (70), Beckham 2 (31). SB—Figgins (27), Branyan (1), Pierre (38). CS—Rios (11). S—Al.Ramirez. SF—Smoak. RLISP—Seattle 5 (Jo.Wilson, F.Gutierrez, M.Saunders 3); Chicago 1 (Rios).

J.Vargas 41/385513903.20
J.Wright L, 1-3 201120294.91
League 12/310000163.40
Buehrle 595514974.15
S.Santos 11/300002151.67
Thornton W, 3-3 2/320000172.48
Putz H, 11 10000071.42
Jenks S, 21-23 100003134.82

IR-S—League 1-1. HBP—by Thornton (Jo.Wilson). T—2:57. A—25,126 (40,615).

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