The Mariners will skip Miguel Batista in the rotation this time around, and it's possible he'll work out of the bullpen for the rest of the season.
Batista, who continues to battle back pain, lasted just three innings his last time out and has not lasted six innings in 14 of his 19 starts.
Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, who has been starting for Class AAA Tacoma, is the leading contender to replace Batista. Manager Jim Riggleman says the idea is to promote a starter from Tacoma, but further than that he won't go.
"We haven't said anything to the pitcher yet," Riggleman said. "And if there is an injury or we burn through our bullpen, things could change. We know who it is, but we really can't say more than that right now."
Batista said the move was all right with him because he felt throwing fewer innings might turn out to be better for his back, which has been a problem for most of the last three months.
Ibanez, who drove in 14 runs in a three-day stretch Sunday through Tuesday before being shut out Wednesday, was hitless in his first three at-bats before hitting a split-finger from Wheeler down the right field line for his 18th homer.
RHP Felix Hernandez allowed four hits, and the only run off him came on a wild pitch with LF Carl Crawford at third base. RHP J.J. Putz got his third win of the month by throwing a scoreless ninth inning ahead of Ibanez's leadoff blast.
--RHP Miguel Batista has been pulled from the rotation and will work for the moment out of the bullpen. Manager Jim Riggleman said Batista took the news well. "He knows we've got to make some decision about some of our other pitchers," Riggleman said. LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith is likely to be promoted from Class AAA Tacoma to start Saturday's game, which would have been Batista's start.
--RF Ichiro Suzuki's first-inning single gave him a season-best 13-game hitting streak, the fourth time he's had a streak of eight or more games this season. He has 28 streaks of 10 games or more since coming to the Mariners in 2001, the best total in the big leagues. Miguel Tejada and Derek Jeter each have 23 streaks of 10 or more games in that span.
--2B Jose Lopez's double in the second inning Thursday was his 30th of the season. It's the first time in his career he's reached the 30-double level, having had a best of 28 two years ago.
--RHP Felix Hernandez went eight innings Thursday for the first time since June 11. In giving up four hits and one run, Hernandez has allowed three runs of fewer in four of his first five starts since the All-Star break. It was the seventh time this season he's thrown six or more innings allowing one or zero runs.
--RHP J.J. Putz threw a scoreless ninth inning and got the win Thursday when LF Raul Ibanez led off the bottom of the ninth with his 18th homer. It's the third consecutive appearance for Putz in which he's come away with a win.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- The number of multiple-hit games for Jeff Clement this year. He had one Sunday, his first since July 5.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He said he felt good. It's a great sign. Every day we'll add to it, build it up." -- Trainer Rick Griffin, on the return to throwing in the outfield of LHP Erik Bedard.
LHP Erik Bedard (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 5. He was unable to throw July 21, but an MRI the next day showed the same impingement he has had. He started throwing again in early August, but he might not be back with the Mariners before September.
RF Mike Morse (dislocated left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 14. He had surgery April 22 and probably won't play again this season.