SEATTLE (AP) -- For all that went right for Seattle closer J.J. Putz last season, about the same has gone wrong for him this year.
Putz, the 2007 Rolaids Relief Man Award winner in the American League, was relieved to earn his first save since June 9 in the Mariners' 7-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics. But even that was a struggle as he allowed two baserunners before inducing a game-ending double play."It's been a tough year, physically and mentally," said Putz, who has been on the disabled list twice with elbow and rib injuries. "To walk the leadoff hitter then get out of it with a groundball when I needed to was huge."Putz picked up his eighth save in 15 opportunities. Last season he had 40 saves in 42 chances.Rookie Jeff Clement had two run-scoring doubles to help the Mariners break their seven-game losing streak.Roy Corcoran (4-0), who allowed one hit in two innings of relief, earned the victory.Clement, who had three RBIs, hit his second double in the Mariners' go-ahead two-run rally in the seventh. Adrian Beltre opened with a double to center off Jerry Blevins (1-3) and Raul Ibanez advanced him to third with a groundout. With the infield in, Jose Lopez reached out for an RBI single through the middle for a 6-5 lead.Clement then hit Blevins' first pitch for a double off the wall in left-center and Lopez scored from first.Rajai Davis, who replaced Jack Cust in the third inning when the latter complained of blurred vision, gave the A's a 1-0 lead in the fourth with a home run just inside the left-field pole. Davis and Bobby Crosby both had three hits for the A's.Seattle responded with a four-run rally in the bottom of the inning. Ibanez walked then Lopez ripped an RBI double against the wall in left-center. After Wladimir Balentien reached on an error, Clement slammed a two-run double against the wall in center.Clement moved to third on Bryan LaHair's sacrifice bunt. Miguel Cairo followed with a nicely placed suicide squeeze up the third-base line and Clement scored easily."The runner on third did not leave early. He left perfectly," A's manager Bob Geren said. "You don't see that a lot in our league. It didn't catch us off guard. It was just well done."The Mariners, who were shut out by the A's on Thursday, ended a 16-inning scoreless streak with the outburst.Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said that Clement "is facing so many left-handed pitchers here lately. We're trying to get him going. He's battling. He's giving us good at-bats. He takes a couple steps forward and occasionally a step back. He took a big step forward tonight with a couple big hits against left-handers."Clement is hitting .350 with six doubles and nine RBIs in August.Oakland countered with a four-run rally in the sixth to retake the lead. Carlos Gonzalez's fielder's choice scored one run and Daric Barton's RBI single made it 4-3. Cliff Pennington capped it with a two-run bloop single off Cesar Jimenez for a 5-4 lead.Ichiro Suzuki tied it in the sixth with a run-scoring groundout.Putz, who had blown four straight save opportunities entering the ninth, walked Eric Patterson to open the inning. Crosby flied out and Emil Brown singled to center. Putz then got Frank Thomas to hit a low fastball to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who turned it into the game-ender."J.J. is slowly getting back to his former self," Riggleman said. "He has shown signs lately."Putz said it was only a matter of time, a long time."It's a time thing," Putz added. "You can long toss all you want to build arm strength but 4 o'clock long toss is completely different than 10 o'clock long toss in the ninth inning. It's a matter of time. I hope it's close."It comes with consistent work in games I'm supposed to be in. It's just been a rough year for everybody."
A's 2B Mark Ellis left the game in the second with right shoulder pain. It stemmed from Thursday's game in which he slid hard into second base in the third inning. ... Thomas' first-inning strikeout extended his hitless streak to a career-high 20 at-bats. He would go 0-for-4 to make it 23 straight. ... Erik Bedard, sidelined since July 5 with a tender left shoulder, made 40 to 50 throws from 80 feet Friday. "It didn't hurt and that's the key," Riggleman said.