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Seattle Mariners

Mariners show maturity in close games

Sun., June 5, 2011, midnight

SEATTLE – The Mariners on Saturday played their 24th one-run game this season, and while it was a 3-2 loss it continued the important growth of a team that has learned how to compete in close games.

It wasn’t that many seasons ago when an early 3-0 deficit was reason enough for the Mariners to fold for the day. This team is different, manager Eric Wedge and the players have said, and Saturday’s game became another example.

Silenced by Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson for 7 1/3 innings, Miguel Olivo’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled the Mariners within a run. That’s how it ended, but the Mariners didn’t walk away feeling defeated.

Pitcher Doug Fister, who struggled early and allowed three runs in the second inning, was Saturday’s example of that never-quit approach. He followed with five scoreless innings.

“We’re battling together from the first pitch on,” Fister said. “Things don’t always roll our way, but that doesn’t get us down. It’s a big key for where we want to be. It builds confidence in one another and (establishes) the fun atmosphere we want to have.”

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