SEATTLE -- With left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders representing the final hitting hope for a possible Seattle comeback against the Chicago Cubs, times were desperate for the Mariners.
Saunders was foisted into a hitting role when the injury-riddled Mariners sustained more injuries, giving up their DH spot and using all their position players in a 5-3, 11-inning loss Saturday.Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs the victory with a two-run homer off Oliver Perez (2-2) in the top of the 11th.Mariners center fielder Dustin Ackley had to leave the game in the ninth after a diving attempt on Soriano's flyball. He was diagnosed with a sprained left thumb and received precautionary X-rays."All things considered, I think we're going to be OK," manager Eric Wedge said. "A sprained thumb. Probably going to be a couple days. We'll see how he feels when he comes in (Sunday)."Jason Bay, who had entered as a pinch runner in the eighth, moved to center. Michael Saunders would have been in that spot but could not throw or hit because a finger was spiked in Friday's game. All he could do was pinch run.By the time the 11th rolled around, Saunders was told to grab a bat. He flied out to center to end the game."Today was one of those fluke games when you're banged up coming in and someone else gets hurt," Wedge said. "You're trying to tie the ball game and come back, sometimes these things happen."Joe Saunders added: "When we lost the DH I had an inkling ... hopefully, it didn't come to that but you get up there and tried to do your job. In that case, I was just trying to get on base."The Mariners had tied the game with two outs in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Henry Blanco earned a one-out walk off Kevin Gregg to start the ninth-inning rally. Michael Saunders ran for him. Nick Franklin moved Saunders to second with a right-side groundout.Endy Chavez, on a 0-for-19 slide entering his at-bat, sliced a single into shallow center, scoring Saunders with the tying run."It was up a little bit," Gregg said. "He fought it off enough to get it over second base. It happens."Gregg had been a perfect 13 for 13 in save opportunities this season. His last blown save was Sept. 10, 2011, while with Baltimore at Toronto.Carlos Villanueva (2-4) earned the win with one inning of relief. Blake Parker finished the 11th for his first career save.Parker was the losing pitcher Friday in Seattle's comeback 5-4 victory in 10 innings.Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija allowed six hits and two runs over his seven innings. He struck out five and walked three.Aaron Harang worked eight innings for the Mariners, allowing three runs on five hits. In three starts against National League teams this season, Harang is 1-2 with a 1.96 ERA. By contrast, he is 2-6 with a 6.52 ERA in start against American League teams.Starlin Castro also had a home run for the Cubs and Justin Smoak hit one for the Mariners.The Mariners were foiled in the eighth. With one out, Kendrys Morales singled and Bay ran for him. Bay broke for second as reliever James Russell tossed over to first and Bay was caught stealing.Raul Ibanez continued the inning with a two-out double to left. Smoak followed with a too-hard single to left. Left-fielder Brian Bogusevic scooped up the ball and threw to the catcher Welington Castillo, who tagged out the sliding Ibanez.After the Mariners rallied, Soriano spoiled it. He connected on a 1-2 pitch from Perez over the center-field wall, 391 feet away."I was trying to go higher because I know he's a very good low-ball hitter and I just missed the pitch," Perez said."Everyone knows Soriano is a very good low-ball hitter and he just golfed the ball. Every time there is a winner and a loser in a game. That (loser) was me today."It ended Perez's 14-game scoreless streak.
Finishing games have been a problem for the Cubs. They are 26-9 when leading after seven and 28-6 when leading after eight. Seattle, by contrast, is 30-1 when leading after seven and 30-2 when leading after eight. "It's been tough all year to get those outs, whether it's the eighth or ninth inning, especially after leading so many games after seven innings," manager Dale Sveum said. "We have to make pitches and get people out in those situations." The Cubs have lost 24 games in which they've had the lead at some point, tied for most in the majors. . Ryan Sweeney left the game in the fourth inning with left rib soreness. . It was a Turn Back the Clock game. The Mariners wore the uniform of the 1909 Seattle Turks, who won a Northwest League championship. The Cubs wore early 1900s replicas.
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SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 29: Starting pitcher Aaron Harang #39 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Chicago Cubs...