My Oh My! Mariners Avoid Sweep on Niehaus Day

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If the Seattle Mariners are serious about giving Brandon Morrow a chance to prove himself as a starter, then Sunday afternoon could be the key to Morrow's future development.

And all he did was face three batters. It was 1 1/3 scoreless innings from J.J. Putz in the Mariners' 8-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles that was the important element.

Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said the team would like to give Morrow a chance to prove himself a starter by the end of the season. For that to happen, Putz must regain his form as Seattle's lockdown closer after missing more than a month with a hyperextended right elbow and blowing two saves in seven appearances since coming off the disabled list.

Sunday was a good start for the Mariners' plans.

"I understand where all those guys are at in terms of what this team is looking for the last two months. You hear talks that they want Brandon to start," Putz said. "Today was big in getting back to making that decision easier."

Putz picked up the win by allowing just one hit, getting the final out of the seventh and working the eighth as Seattle snapped a seven-game home losing streak. Morrow then pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

"J.J.'s looking better and better every outing. It takes a few to get back into the swing of things," Morrow said.

The Mariners offense scored three times in the bottom of the seventh, capped by Raul Ibanez's two-run single off reliever Jamie Walker. Ibanez finished with three RBIs as the Mariners avoided being swept at home by the Orioles for the first time since 1997.

Seattle's big inning began when Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera couldn't find the strike zone. He sandwiched walks to Bryan LaHair and Yuniesky Betancourt around Jeff Clement's infield single. That was the end of the day for Cabrera, who walked Betancourt on four pitches -- just the seventh walk this season for the Mariners' impatient shortstop.

Walker didn't fare much better.

With the bases loaded, Ichiro Suzuki chopped a grounder over the mound that Brian Roberts fielded well behind the bag. He threw to Alex Cintron at second, but Cintron never got a glove on the throw and it hit him in the stomach. Pinch-runner Miguel Cairo scored to break the 4-all tie. Ibanez then dribbled a grounder past Roberts' diving attempt and into right field, scoring Clement and Betancourt.

The big seventh inning was set up by Jose Lopez's solo homer with two outs in the sixth that caromed off the left-field foul pole thanks to a slight breeze that kept the ball from hooking too much.

"The wind helped us. It had all the distance, but that's sometimes one that goes foul. The wind kind of kept it fair," Riggleman said. "That was huge and got us in a tie ball game where we could go right with J.J. and Morrow. It allowed us to set it up nice."

Jeremy Reed also drove in a pair of runs and Clement had an RBI single in the eighth for Seattle, which had not won at home since July 18 against Cleveland, the Mariners' first game after the All-Star break.

Carlos Silva pitched well for Seattle, rebounding from a pair of bad performances in his previous two starts.

Silva pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and nine hits but avoiding a big inning early in the game. He gave up two runs in the second and had runners at second and third, but Cintron's liner to third was caught by Adrian Beltre, who beat Luke Scott to the bag for the double play to end the threat.

Cabrera, who could hear Monday on his appeal of a six-game suspension for throwing at the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, twice failed to finish off an inning after his offense had given him the lead.

The first came in the third when Roberts homered to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead, only to see Cabrera (7-7) allow a lead off double to Betancourt. He scored two batters later on Reed's sacrifice fly.

Again in the sixth, the Orioles went ahead on Kevin Millar's two-out single to score Nick Markakis. But Cabrera lost the lead minutes later on Lopez's homer. Cabrera allowed six earned runs and struck out six.

"Cabrera got us deep in the game but the turning point was walking guys in the bottom of the lineup," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "That came back to be the difference."

Game notes
Silva has just one win since April. ... Trembley said after the game that Adam Jones had X-rays on his left foot and the results were inconclusive. Jones fouled a ball off his foot during Saturday night's game against Seattle and woke up Sunday unable to walk on it. He will have a CT scan on his foot Monday in Anaheim before the Orioles open a three-game series against the Angels. ... The Navy's Blue Angels buzzed around downtown Seattle during the early innings on Sunday. They were in town performing as part of the annual Seafair celebration and hydroplane races on Lake Washington. ... Baltimore's Aubrey Huff extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a bloop single in the second. ... Seattle lost eight straight at home earlier this season. The longest home losing streak in franchise history was 11 games during the 1989 season.