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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mariners no match for Nats

Larry Stone Seattle Times

WASHINGTON – If what the Seattle Mariners encountered this weekend at RFK Stadium was “a bump in the road,” as manager Mike Hargrove expressed Sunday, then the Washington Nationals represented the onrushing limousine that turned them into roadkill.

Not only did the Mariners lose three straight to the hottest team in baseball, including Sunday’s 3-2 monument to clutch-less hitting, but they lost third baseman Adrian Beltre for an as-yet undetermined amount of time with a left hamstring strain.

They also seem to have misplaced Ichiro, or at least the version that used to have his way with major-league pitchers. One hit shy of 1,000 for his career, Ichiro went 0 for 5 to drop to .295, the first time he has finished a game under .300 since May 12, 2004.

“If I was satisfied with my hitting right now, I’d have to quit baseball,” Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. “If you were satisfied with not getting it done, you should never be on the field.”

Beltre suffered his injury while running out his second double of the game in the third inning. He was checked out by a trainer and stayed in for another inning before being replaced by Dave Hansen.

“I didn’t want to come out, but it was the best thing to do,” Beltre said. “If I kept playing, I probably would have made it worse.”

Hargrove said he’d “be surprised if he’s not out at least two, three, four days. Maybe shorter than that. Maybe longer.”

When the game ended with Nationals closer Chad Cordero retiring the M’s in order in the ninth – their only 1-2-3 inning of the game – the crowd of 37,170 stood and cheered until the team left the field.

The Nationals have won 10 straight and 13 of 14, completing their homestand with a 12-1 record.

“They’re doing everything they have to do to give themselves a chance to win,” Hargrove said.

And the Mariners aren’t. After starting the road trip in promising-enough fashion, winning two of three against Florida, the Washington sweep dropped them back to nine games under .500.

In this game, they left 11 men on base and were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, giving them a .145 average (8 for 55) on this trip with runners in scoring position.

“We burned a lot of runs at third base with less than two outs,” Hargrove said. “You can’t do that against any major-league club, let alone one as hot as them.”

Ichiro personally stranded six runners, three in scoring position, and his ongoing struggles are becoming an increasingly serious concern. He is hitting .167 (7 for 42) in June, following a .288 May.

Asked if this was the most frustrating stretch he’s had since he left Japan, Ichiro replied, “I can’t put a number on it, if this is the most or not, but when you’re not getting it done and not seeing results, it’s frustrating.”

Ichiro has four games to get the one hit he needs to become the third player in history to get 1,000 hits in fewer than 700 games, and the first since Chuck Klein in 1933.

Randy Winn, who didn’t start but had a pinch-hit single in the eighth, is now hitting .310 and is the first player other than Ichiro to lead the team in hitting since April 2004.

M’s starter Ryan Franklin gave up three runs in five innings, two of them coming on a two-run homer by Junior Spivey, acquired in a trade on Friday. His record fell to 2-8.

Franklin was followed by three innings of hitless relief from Julio Mateo and Jeff Nelson, but the Mariners couldn’t push across the run they needed to tie the game.

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