SEATTLE (AP) — The hits keep coming for the Seattle Mariners. If only the runs would do the same.
The Mariners lost their third straight game at home to the Minnesota Twins, falling 4-2 Thursday night despite pounding out 12 hits.
They had 32 hits in the three losses and scored just five runs. Thursday, the Mariners loaded the bases three times and scored just one run.
“You can only do what you can do,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We hit the ball hard. It was just singles. We didn’t have a lot of opportunity for first and third or second to home.
“That just the way it is. I’d like to see doubles. It didn’t happen.”
The Mariners have scored just nine runs over their past seven games – going 2-5. During that stretch they have just two hits in 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“We pitched pretty decent here,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But they can hit. These guys can swing the bat. We’ve gone through a little of the same thing.”
“They have a great pitching staff. I’ve talked to Lloyd about it. You know they’re searching, putting those big innings together like everyone else.”
The Mariners were tamed by rookie right-hander Yohan Pino (1-2), winning his first big league game in his fifth big league start.
Throwing 100 pitches, Pino allowed one run and seven hits in five innings, walked two and struck out four.
“(Pino) was fabulous,” Gardenhire said. “We gave him the game ball for his first major league win. We saw he had to battle for it. He made it through the fifth, which was huge.”
Kendrys Morales had the big hit, a two-run double in the fifth inning that gave the Twins a 4-1 lead.
Glen Perkins worked the ninth to pick up his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.
Tom Wilhelmsen (1-2) made his first major league start after 191 relief appearances for the Mariners, never pitching more than three innings in his career. He worked 2 2-3 innings, allowing two runs, one hit and three walks with three strikeouts.
McClendon used six relievers to cover the nine innings after Taijuan Walker, who would have started, was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma to keep him in rotation during the All-Star break. The decision also gave staff ace Felix Hernandez an extra day’s rest, making him available to start Friday against AL West-leading Oakland A’s.
McClendon also made the move knowing his bullpen had a 0.77 ERA with 63 strikeouts in the previous 18 games.
Wilhelmsen had little trouble through the first two innings, throwing just 27 pitches. But he labored in the third, issuing a one-out walk to Sam Fuld before Brian Dozier singled.
With Kurt Suzuki at the plate, the runners pulled off a successful double steal. But catcher Mike Zunino’s throw to third sailed into left field, allowing Fuld to score and Dozier to reach third. Dozier scored on Suzuki’s sacrifice fly to center.
“It went pretty quick,” Wilhelmsen said. “Really quick for the hours of anxiety and the eagerness to get out there.”
He said he had the same routine.
“There’s a batter in the box, it the same mindset. Let’s get them out, let’s attack, let’s go. I’d love to have another crack at it. It was fun.”
Kyle Seager, heading to the All-Star game on Tuesday, had given the Mariners a 1-0 lead with his 14th home run in the second inning. Seager has a team-leading 60 RBIs. He is hitting .352 in 45 games at Safeco Field this season.
Pino survived two bases-loaded, two-out threats. In the third with a 3-2 count on Corey Hart, he threw a 79 mph slider that Hart chased to end it.
In the fifth, once again Hart came up with the bases loaded and Pino induced him to ground out weakly to first, as the ball spun around the infield grass and was chased down by first baseman Chris Parmelee.
Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar left with two outs in the fifth after Suzuki and Parmelee singled. Joe Beimel entered and was victimized by Morales.
“I don’t care who you are playing, who you think you can beat, who you match up against, the big leagues are tough,” McClendon said.
In the seventh, the Mariners loaded the bases again, with one out. Endy Chavez scored on Seager’s sacrifice fly to left, but the rally ended when James Jones was ruled out trying to advance to third.
NOTES: Wilhelmsen’s start after 191 appearances is the third-most in club history behind Luis DeLeon (206) and Dwayne Henry (225). … Robinson Cano is hitting .484 over his last 16 games against the Twins. … Mariners OF Michael Saunders left the game in the eighth after holding his side on a checked swing. He will be given an MRI Friday.