SEATTLE – Doug Fister has seen the Seattle Mariners pull together the past month. He’s just happy to finally contribute.
Fister (3-5) picked up his first victory since April 30, a 4-3 decision over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
Fister went 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits, walked one and struck out a career-high nine in his 49th start. He threw 23 of 30 first-pitch strikes. He is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA his past eight starts, but this was his first win in May.
“Guys have been gaining confidence. It’s a great thing to be a part of,” Fister said. “It’s a real family atmosphere here.”
The Mariners, who lost 11 of their first 15 games to open the season, have won 10 of their past 12 and are 19-11 over their last 30 games to go one game over .500 (27-26). They have assured just their second winning May (14-11) since 2004.
Fister worked at least into the seventh in four of his five May starts with a 3.79 ERA but had nothing to show for it.
“You look at his stuff, the way he approaches his game plan and sticks to it, the way he’s able to make adjustments and make pitches,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, “He’s not just a one- or two-pitch guy. He has weapons beyond that. What I see is a guy who really understands himself.”
Brandon League worked the ninth for his 14th save in 17 opportunities.
Jack Cust supported Fister with his second career triple, driving in two runs.
Ichiro Suzuki, steeped in his worst career slump – 1 for 22 over his previous five games – had two singles and scored twice. He has a career .367 average against Baltimore, the best against any team. He has at least one hit in 40 of the last 42 games he’s played against the Orioles.
While the Mariners are heating up, the Orioles have lost four straight.
Jake Arrieta (6-3) lasted just 2 1/3 innings for the Orioles, allowing four hits, four runs and walking four.
Suzuki greeted Arrieta with a sharp first-inning single to right. With one out, Justin Smoak walked and Cust followed with a triple. The high flyball hit halfway up the right-center wall then bounced away from the fielders.
His first triple came on Aug. 18, 2007, for Oakland against Kansas City.
“There’s just not many opportunities to get a triple,” Cust said. “The ball kind of fell away from them so it was pretty easy.”
Mark Reynolds drilled the first hit against Fister in the third, a solo shot into the second deck in left field. It was his seventh homer of the season.
Suzuki ignited the M’s two-run third inning with a leadoff single that caromed off Arrieta’s left leg. Brendan Ryan followed with a single to left, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. Smoak walked to load the bases.
After Cust flied out to shallow left, Arrieta issued successive bases-loaded walks to Adam Kennedy – in a 12-pitch at-bat – and Miguel Olivo for a 4-1 Mariners’ lead.
Fister yielded a leadoff double to Luke Scott in the fifth but didn’t allow him to advance past second. In the seventh, he had runners on first and second with one out then struck out Nolan Reimold and got Reynolds on a fielder’s choice.
“He got ahead and it is always tough to hit when you are 0-1 or 0-2,” Matt Wieters said of Fister. “Next time you have to come out and be aggressive so he doesn’t get to 0-2.”
The Orioles rallied for two runs off Fister in the eighth. Robert Andino opened with a one-hop shot that third baseman Chone Figgins couldn’t handle. Felix Pie then singled to right with Andino racing to third. With one out, Nick Markakis singled to right, scoring Andino to make it 4-2.
Jamey Wright took over for Fister and induced Vladimir Guerrero to hit a hard grounder to Figgins’ left. The ball bounced off Figgins’ glove for an error, allowing Pie to score.
Aaron Laffey ended the Orioles’ rally by getting Scott on a grounder.
League allowed Reimold’s leadoff single in the ninth, but finished the game on a double play by Andino.
Figgins, struggling with a .193 batting average, was moved from second to eighth in the lineup.
“I’ve been through stuff like this before,” he said. “My mind says I’m not going to change. I’ll try to do the same things, play defense and try to create some havoc.”
Wedge said Figgins is looking for the ‘feel’ a hitter needs. “That’s what he’s lost and what he’s working to get back,” he said.
Figgins was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and an error.