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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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June 21, 2008 9:52 PM

No longer unbeaten in Riggleman era

Posted by Larry Stone

Now that's the Mariners that we know and love. Another excruciating loss. Ho-hum.

Yes, they could really have used Brandon Morrow in the ninth, or the closer formerly known as J.J. Putz. But neither was available, so Jim Riggleman (who knows now a little more clearly why McLaren was perpetually haggard) had to go with Miguel Batista. We're still waiting for him to record his first out.

Batista, of course, made a fatal mistake when he walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, and as you saw, the inning unraveled from there. Batista thought he might have been squeezed a bit by the umpire on a couple of pitches on the walk to Kelly Johnson, but to his credit he took full blame for the loss.You know Greg Norton was feeling great about his contribution -- that was one great catch he made to rob Johjima, even though it probably didn't have to be so dramatic if Norton had judge the ball better off the bat. Then he laced the double that tied the game, and scored the winning run on Brian McCann's walk-off, sawed-off single.

"The first inning, leaving those guys on second and third with nobody out, I was glad I was able to make up for it later,'' Norton said.

Asked if he was thinking about facing his former team, Norton said, "Maybe I was, because I seemed to be swinging at every pitch over my head for two out of the first three at-bats, thinking I could hit it,and it didn't work out for me.

"It wasn't any added energy. I'm a pretty low-key guy. I was telling Chipper I didn't even know that tied the game. I thought we were still down by one. They all said I should have been on third. That's a scary thought, me getting a triple."

One funny thing that happened after Norton made his leaping catch is that the next inning, when he was warming up, someone from the Mariners' bullpen -- I don't know who -- rolled him out a ball. The pen is located in left field.

"I was looking in their bullpen, all those guys,'' he said of the Mariners' relievers, who were laughing. "They threw me a ball and wrote on it. I can't repeat what they wrote on it. I was warming up with (Gregor) Blanco and I see a ball roll by me. I threw it in the stands.

One thing positive about tonight for the Mariners was the work of starter Jarrod Washburn. He really battled, to use a cliche that's apt in this case, and allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings.

Washburn has quietly strung together three good starts in a row, even though he doesn't have a win to show for it. Will that make him of interest to teams looking to bolster their rotation for the stretch drive? It might, especially if he can keep it up as July 31 approaches. The Mariners don't have many chips to play, and Washburn could be one.

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