LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lloyd McClendon has been using his bullpen a lot more than he desired, and that makes the Seattle Mariners manager very unhappy.
Taijuan Walker failed to pitch into the fifth inning for the second straight outing, giving up five runs, six hits and four walks on Wednesday night in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Last Friday at Oakland, the right-hander surrendered nine runs and nine hits through 3 1-3 innings in his first start of the season.
“His velocity was fine. He’s just got to control the strike zone a little better,” McClendon said. “We’ve got to get better efforts from our starters. We’ve got to get deeper into ballgames. We’ve got a real good bullpen, but they won’t be worth a darn if we keep running them out there.”
Nelson Cruz homered in his fifth straight game, the longest streak of his career. But it couldn’t prevent the two-time defending NL West champions from sweeping a club that has high hopes of challenging for the AL West title.
“I saw Cruz play quite a bit when I was with the Angels, and he hit many home runs against us,” Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “He has power to all fields. I played against him in the minor leagues, too, and he won the Triple Crown in Triple-A. The guy’s approach is a solid one. Everybody knows he has the power, and it just seems like once he gets his pitch, he doesn’t seem to miss very much.”
Cruz led the majors last season with nine interleague home runs and had four in this series — including two against Brandon McCarthy on Monday night and one against David Huff on Tuesday night. The three-time All-Star signed a four-year, $47 million contract with the Mariners in December after hitting a career-high 40 homers for Baltimore.
“I don’t think any park is pitcher-friendly to Nelson Cruz at this point,” Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson said.
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was 1 for 13 in the series with eight strikeouts. He had a ground-rule double leading off the fifth, but was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Joc Pederson — who also robbed him of a hit in the second with a diving catch in right-center.
It was measure of payback for Pederson, who was thrown out trying to steal second base by Zunino on consecutive nights.
“He threw me out yesterday and he got me again today, so I’m glad I could return the favor,” Pederson said.
Anderson (1-0), allowed two runs — one earned — and six hits over five innings and struck out three in the annual Civil Rights Game, which included a pregame ceremony celebrating the 68th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut.
The Mariners got on the board in the fourth when Cruz homered to right-center. They got another run in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Kyle Seager with the bases loaded, and were threatening for more when Robinson Cano ran himself into a costly out.
Paco Rodriguez had just walked Morrison when Cano inexplicably kept creeping down the third-base line, trying to catch catcher Yasmani Grandal napping. But Rodriguez frantically motioned and yelled to his batterymate, who reacted quickly and ran Cano back to third before Juan Uribe tagged him for the second out.
“Robby just thought the bases were loaded,” McClendon said. “Tonight, we got in the way of our talents, there’s no question about that.”
The Dodgers, coming off back-to-back walkoff victories in the first two games against the Dodgers, did all of their scoring in the first three innings — including a two-run double by Scott Van Slyke and RBI singles by Pederson, Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez, who has a franchise-record 19 hits through his first nine games.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez, whose second start of the season Sunday at Oakland ended after five innings because of tightness in his right quadriceps, threw a side session Wednesday on flat ground and did not experience any setbacks. So, the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner is a go to start on Saturday against Texas at Safeco Field.
Dodgers: RF Yasiel Puig sat out his second straight game due to tightness in his left hamstring. … LF Carl Crawford didn’t start because of an injured left foot, which occurred on Tuesday night when scrambled back to second base after making a wide turn on a single. He pinch-hit in the seventh and struck out.
Mariners: LHP J.A. Happ (0-0) will start against the Texas Rangers on Friday night against RHP Yovani Gallardo in the opener of a nine-game homestand.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (0-1) will start the opener of a three-game set against Colorado at Chavez Ravine on Friday against RHP Kyle Kendrick.
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