Robert Andino delivered a two-out homer in the top of the ninth off left-hander Charlie Furbush. Wei-Yin Chen had a perfect game into the seventh inning before Casper Wells homered. The Mariners tied it with a three-run eighth.
Two and a half months after Philip Humber achieved immortality at Safeco Field, and a mere four days after Aaron Cook raised Eric Wedge’s ire with an 81-pitch shutout at the same venue, Wei-Yin Chen took the Seattle mound on Tuesday.
For a long while it looked like something magical was going to happen for Chen. And then something totally unforeseen happened for the Mariners, who charged hard after what would have been their most rousing comeback victory of the season.
But in the end, it was the Orioles who rallied last, and best, to pull out a 5-4 victory at Safeco Field.
“That game was an emotional back-and-forth,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Casper (Wells) got us going, and the fight you saw after that — no one saw that coming.”
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After the Mariners scored three in the eighth to tie the game, Robert Andino delivered a two-out homer in the top of the ninth off left-hander Charlie Furbush to provide the margin of victory.
“It was a two-seamer. I wanted to have it sink. It just didn’t sink,” Furbush said. “It stayed flat, and he put a good swing on it. It’s a tough way to lose, after we had battled back. I just didn’t get the job done.”
Andino’s homer to left — his first since May 7, and fourth of the year — came on a 2-2 pitch and ended Furbush’s scoreless streak at 22-2/3 innings. Tom Wilhelmsen was unavailable after being used in three straight games.
“Charlie has been fantastic,” Wedge said. “He just left one up in that situation. He’s been good against left-handers and right-handers. I felt he was the best guy to go to at that time.”
The Orioles’ All-Star closer, Jim Johnson, worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 24th save, and the Mariners’ stirring rally had an anti-climactic ending
On a night when it looked early like Felix Hernandez again had the electric stuff to flirt with a masterpiece, it was Chen, a rookie left-hander, who flirted with history. And then the Orioles who flirted with disaster.
Chen retired the first 19 Mariners hitters, but with one out in the seventh — eight outs from perfection — Wells jumped all over a 3-2 pitch and crushed it over the wall in left field.
“In that situation, I’m either going to walk, or if he throws off speed or something and gets me out, I’ll tip my cap,” Wells said. “I’m looking fastball in that situation. I know he’s got to throw a strike. It’s a perfect game and I’m pretty much sitting dead red, and I got a fastball I could handle.”
Chen exited after Michael Saunders’ double with one out in the eighth, which barely eluded a diving effort by center fielder Adam Jones. Pedro Strop took over and promptly gave up an RBI single to Justin Smoak and another single to Dustin Ackley. Pinch-hitter John Jaso singled to right to score Smoak.
Ichiro grounded into a force for the second out, leaving runners on the corners. But Strop hit Wells to load the bases, and then walked Kyle Seager to force in the tying run. Reliever Darren O’Day got Jesus Montero on a fly out to end the inning.
There was little to foreshadow the would-be gem by Chen, 26, a native of Taiwan who pitched the past four seasons for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. The Orioles signed him to a three-year, $11.18 million contract in the offseason, and he has been a strong addition to their rotation, bringing a 7-4 record and 3.73 earned-run average into the game.
Still, in 15 previous starts, he had never gone more than 7-2/3 innings or allowed fewer than four hits.
The Mariners were kept off-balance most of the night by Chen, who struck out nine and didn’t walk any in 7-1/3 innings.
Hernandez roared through five shutout innings, stretching his scoreless streak to 20 innings. He struck out eight in that span, much to the frenzied delight of the blue-clad denizens of the King’s Court. But it all came unraveled in the sixth, when the Orioles greeted him with four straight singles that netted two runs.