BALTIMORE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners managed only five hits, and still they were poised to snap a four-game losing streak after taking a 1-0 lead in the 12th inning against Baltimore.
Then, for the second time in three games, Seattle closer Brandon League couldn’t get the final three outs to seal the victory.
J.J. Hardy singled in two runs with the bases-loaded in the 12th, and the Orioles rallied for a 2-1 victory Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.
After Miguel Olivo singled in the game’s first run, the Orioles bounced back in their half against League (0-3). Derrek Lee led off with a single, and League hit Vladimir Guerrero and Adam Jones with pitches to load the bases with no outs.
The pitch that struck Jones made League wince more than the batter.
“It was just a poor pitch,” the right-hander said. “I can’t take it back.”
Matt Wieters hit a liner that shortstop Luis Rodriguez snagged with a dive, but Hardy followed with a bouncer up the middle that scored Lee and pinch-runner Jake Fox, who easily beat the throw with a headfirst slide.
League hit only two batters with pitches all last year. He was 9 for 9 in save opportunities before blowing two in three games against the Orioles.
“I just didn’t do my job. It all comes down to that,” League said. “I didn’t do my job coming in to close out the game. We have to recuperate and forget about this series.”
Seattle manager Eric Wedge said of League: “He was just a little erratic tonight. He hit a couple of those guys but he’s been great for us all year. You’re not going to be perfect. It was a tough one because it was such a tight ballgame, a well-played ballgame, so you hate to let that one get away in the end.”
Hardy was mobbed by his teammates, who celebrated their second extra-inning comeback in the series. Two nights earlier, Baltimore scored twice off League in the 13th for a 7-6 win.
Ichiro Suzuki led off the 12th with an infield single off Jim Johnson (2-1), Seattle’s first hit since the fifth inning. Two straight groundouts got Suzuki to third base, and Olivo lined a single past third baseman Cesar Izturis for a 1-0 lead.
It wouldn’t last.
Orioles rookie Zach Britton and Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas both went nine innings in an outstanding pitching duel that couldn’t be decided until after both left the game.
Britton gave up three hits, struck out five and walked none in the longest outing of his brief big league career. The left-hander did not allow a runner past first base and retired the final 13 batters he faced.
“My job was to keep us in the game as long as possible,” Britton said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Vargas, who threw the ball really well. When’s that going to happen again, two guys going like that?”
Vargas yielded seven hits, walked one and struck out four. He had only two perfect innings but was aided by three double plays.
“I didn’t give up any runs,” Vargas said, “so I guess that’s all I can do.”
After playing their first 34 games without going into extra innings, the Mariners have been extended beyond the ninth in three of their last four. They lost all three.
There were only a few scoring threats before the 12th inning.
Mark Reynolds led off the eighth with a walk, the first issued by either starter. Pinch-runner Felix Pie advanced on a bunt by Robert Andino, but Brian Roberts grounded out and Nick Markakis looked at a third strike.
In the Seattle 10th, Justin Smoak drew a leadoff walk from Kevin Gregg and advanced on bunt. Jack Cust received an intentional walk before Mike Wilson, making his first major league start, bounced into a double play.
The Mariners turned a double play in each of the first three innings, making it five straight games in which they recorded at least two DPs. The last time Seattle had such a streak was August 8-12, 2009.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)