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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Orioles blast Seattle

John Boyle Everett Herald

SEATTLE – For five and two thirds innings, Felix Hernandez was getting away with it.

The Mariners’ sometimes ace was far from his best Tuesday night, but he kept putting zeros on the scoreboard. Hernandez fell behind hitters and let runners reach base every inning, but managed to escape trouble for most of his night.

It finally caught up to Hernandez in the top of the sixth, however, when Baltimore left fielder Jay Gibbons tattooed a 2-0 pitch into the right-field bleachers for the three-run homerun.

That shot gave the Orioles the lead for good, and the Mariners’ usually reliable bullpen had a terrible seventh inning in what ended up as an 8-3 Baltimore win in front of 22,470 at Safeco Field.

“He went to the well too many times and Gibbons got him,” said Mariners manager John McLaren.

Hernandez’s outing – six innings, three runs – was hardly a disaster, but the Mariners were hoping for more from the 21-year-old who came into Tuesday’s start with a 1.61 ERA in his three July outings.

Hernandez, who started behind in the count to 14 of the 26 batters he faced, threw 99 pitches, 57 of them strikes. He allowed 11 base runners in six innings, yielding eight hits while walking three to go along with five strikeouts.

“I think we all need to keep that in mind sometimes,” McLaren said when asked about Hernandez’s age. “He can be so sensational at times, but he is a young kid.”

And while Hernandez’s six innings were less than stellar, the bullpen’s seventh inning was much, much worse.

Eric O’Flaherty started the seventh in relief and only recorded one out after facing six batters. Ryan Rowland-Smith came in to relieve O’Flaherty and got out of the inning, but not before yielding a two-run single to Gibbons and an RBI single to Chris Gomez that made it 8-2. The Orioles sent 10 batters to the plate in their five-run seventh. All five runs were charged to O’Flaherty.

“We have a lot of faith in our bullpen, but it just didn’t happen tonight,” said McLaren. “It was just one of those games. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

As it turned out, the best news for the Mariners came before the game, as the centerfield big screen showed the final innings of the Angels’ 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay, meaning the Mariners remain 2 1/2 games behind in the American League West race. Seattle did drop a game in the wild card standings, however, and now sit two games behind Cleveland after the Indians’ comeback win against Chicago.

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