April 4, 2011 in Sports

Bedard solid in season debut

Pitches five innings in loss to Rangers
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas – Erik Bedard made his first start in 20 months and the Seattle Mariners’ left-hander didn’t show much rust.

Bedard got his latest comeback under way with five solid innings in a 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

Bedard (0-1) allowed five runs – three earned – and four hits. He gave up homers to Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus, but struck out three and walked two in a positive step as he tries to bounce back from a series of shoulder injuries.

“I didn’t forget how it was,” Bedard said. “I didn’t have too many butterflies. I tried to throw strikes and get people out.”

His previous start was July 25, 2009, before undergoing his third season-ending left shoulder surgery in a three-year span in August 2009. He missed all of last season.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge liked what he saw from Bedard.

“He threw the ball well and hadn’t been out there in a long time,” Wedge said. “I thought he did a good job of controlling the ballgame, mixed his pitches well. … I was really pleased with his performance.”

The 31-year-old Bedard was 3-1 with a 3.15 ERA in six starts this spring, so Wedge wasn’t surprised that he was able to perform as well as he did.

“He’s a veteran guy with a great mindset,” Wedge said. “He had a great approach every time he was out there all spring. He took it into tonight and it was good to see. I was happy for him. He gave us a chance to win the ballgame and that’s all you can do.”

Milton Bradley had three hits for the Mariners (2-2), improving his batting average to .353.

Homers have become a regular thing for Cruz, the third player in major league history to open a season by going deep in four straight games. Andrus, however, hadn’t hit one in 705 at-bats.

“We’ve got a solid offense,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Anybody in the lineup can get you. Tonight Elvis got us going. And Cruz came back and got another one. … Anytime you’ve got that lineup, that’s what it’s all about.”

Cruz went to the plate in the fourth guessing he’d get a first-pitch curve from Bedard. Instead, the lefty threw a changeup and Cruz adjusted with a drive over the center-field wall to give him four of Texas’ 13 homers.

“In that at-bat I was thinking, hit the ball through the hole (at) second base hard, because he was throwing that curveball,” Cruz said. “I was hoping he would throw that so I could hit it the other way, but he threw me a changeup and I turned on it.”

Cruz joined Willie Mays (1971) and Mark McGwire (1998) as the only players to go deep in each of their first four games of a season.

The Rangers capitalized on Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki’s error to make it 3-0 in the second. After Napoli drew a two-out walk, Yorvit Torrealba’s line drive to right kicked off the heel of Suzuki’s glove. Julio Borbon, the No. 9 hitter, followed with his two-run triple to right-center.

The Mariners rallied in the fourth on ex-Ranger Justin Smoak’s RBI double and Miguel Olivo’s run-scoring groundout, but Cruz’s solo shot on a changeup in the bottom half made it 4-2. Smoak extended his hitting streak to 14 games dating to last season.

Chone Figgins’ RBI groundout in the fifth pulled Seattle within 4-3, but Josh Hamilton’s two-out RBI double in the fifth restored the two-run pad.

Bradley (double) and Olivo (singled) parlayed hits off Arthur Rhodes for Seattle’s final run in the eighth after Texas had made it 6-4 on Michael Young’s leadoff double and a double play grounder in the sixth.

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