Slipping Away

The Mariners hit a new low on Sunday by squandering a three-run, eighth-inning lead to lose a sixth straight game.


Just before the Mariners went out Saturday and lost a fifth consecutive blowout, general manager Bill Bavasi came out and said that the Mariners' poor play wasn't a case of manager John McLaren not doing his job.

"This is not a field manager issue," Bavasi said. "Our performance is not related to his work. It's related to (players') underperformance and underachievement.

"No one had the nerve to pick us anywhere but first or second or making it as the wild card," Bavasi said, adding that he felt those expectations were justified.

That the expectations aren't being met lands on the general manager's desk, and Bavasi recognizes that. "I don't take it personally, but I take it to heart," Bavasi said. "The buck stops here. We all had a lot of high expectations for this team. The key is that the year is not over. It's time for somebody to step up and for us to get us back in striking distance by the All-Star break.

"I feel responsible for this."

At the same time, Bavasi said the ultimate turnaround must come from the players themselves. The general manager admits that the club hasn't gotten the kind of team leadership from the players that is necessary to turn things around.

"When something goes wrong, we need players to grab (other) players by the throat to say, 'That's not what we do here,'" he said. "Good teams have players who make demands of each other. We need players to step up and play like they can, not like how they want to.

"I see people who care, but you have to be willing to take the first step out of the shell."

YANKEES 6, MARINERS 5: Jarrod Washburn, whose career ERA of 2.52 coming into Sunday against New York was the best among all active pitchers, allowed two runs in six innings.

But when closer J.J. Putz couldn't defuse a four-run Yankee eighth inning, Washburn's day wasn't enough to keep the Mariners from losing their sixth consecutive game.

Putz took over after Arthur Rhodes allowed a run-scoring double with none out in the eighth. The closer walked Alex Rodriguez, then with one out, threw wildly after fielding Shelley Duncan's infield hit as a run scored. A sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano tied the game and C Jose Molina won it with a double on Putz' next pitch.

Ichiro Suzuki got the Mariners on the scoreboard with a solo homer, his third, in the third, and Yuniesky Betancourt broke a 1-all tie in the fourth with a two-strike single to put Seattle ahead. Jose Vidro added a two-run single in the seventh.


--LHP Jarrod Washburn had gone 121 2/3 innings without allowing a stolen base before Yankee LF Johnny Damon stole third base in the third inning Sunday. 3B Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees then stole second base in the sixth.

--RHP Felix Hernandez is tentatively scheduled to start Monday in Seattle against the Red Sox. Hernandez said Sunday he's ready to go. However, manager John McLaren said the start is conditional on Hernandez's sore right calf not flaring up during warm-ups.

--RHP J.J. Putz, who was brought into Sunday's game with one out, one on and the Mariners holding a two-run lead, had only twice in his career gotten a two-inning save. Both of those were in 2006, the most recent Sept. 2, 2006 against Tampa Bay.

--3B coach Sammy Perlozzo, who has been on the bench since the beginning of the month in the wake of arthroscopic knee surgery, hopes to return to the third base box this week against the Red Sox. With Perlozzo out, 1B coach Eddie Rodriguez has been at third and bench coach Jim Riggleman has filled in at first.

--RHP J.J. Putz said he was not hurt while doing a belly flop in pursuit of a Hideki Matsui grounder in the eighth inning. "It's not that bad," he said. "It was more like a stinger that you might get playing football. It was a little numb there for a moment. But it was fine. I'll be OK if they need me (Monday)."

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Seattle pitching allowed nine runs or more in five straight games Tuesday through Saturday. That's the second longest such streak in Seattle history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm a tough guy. I feel I'm at my best with my back to the wall." -- Manager John McLaren.



RHP Felix Hernandez (mild right calf strain) was pulled from his May 18 start. He said it wasn't serious and that he expects to make his next start on May 26.

DH Jose Vidro (back spasms) was unable to bat May 6-8. He played May 9 but was not in the lineup May 10-11. He received a cortisone shot May 10 and returned to the lineup May 12, but he sat out again May 13-14. He returned to the lineup May 20.

RF Mike Morse (dislocated left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 14. He had shoulder surgery April 22 and probably won't play again this season.

RHP Anderson Garcia (right shoulder tendinitis) opened the season on the 15-day disabled list. He restarted a rehab assignment with Class A High Desert on May 19.

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