SEATTLE (AP)—Seattle manager Mike Hargrove knows he can’t keep walking to the mound and summoning closer J.J. Putz in the eighth inning.
Putz’s perfect mark closing out games makes it hard to do anything else.
For the seventh time this season, and third time in his last four appearances, Hargrove asked Putz on Friday night for more than just his usual three outs. And again, Putz came through with his 23rd save, finishing off the Mariners’ 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We can’t do that very often. I’ve said that before, but I really mean that,” Hargrove said. “If we want to keep J.J. effective and rested, we can’t go an inning and two-thirds saves.”
Putz didn’t mind, especially since his effort closed out Seattle’s season-high sixth straight win and improved the Mariners to 43-33, the first time they’ve been 10 games above .500 since the end of the 2003 season. Seattle’s six-game winning streak is its longest since a six-game streak last Aug. 24-29.
Putz entered with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded after two walks by Brandon Morrow and one by George Sherill. Putz got a popup from Howie Clark, but John McDonald grounded off shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt’s glove for an infield single that scored Aaron Hill.
Putz got out of the jam by striking out Alex Rios, who broke his bat over his thigh.
“It definitely goes through your mind,” Putz said of facing Thomas. “You just really have to be careful with a guy like that and a runner at first. One swing from that guy can totally change the game.”
Against Cincinnati last Sunday, Putz threw 1 1-3 innings, and pitched 1 2-3 innings on Tuesday against Boston. He’s retired at least three batters in his last 22 appearances.
Putz’s clutch effort preserved the win for Jarrod Washburn, who pitched six innings despite a stiff back that flared up before the first pitch. Washburn thought he could have gone one more inning, but Hargrove was cautious.
Washburn (7-6) certainly wasn’t overpowering, failing to strike out a batter and giving up nine hits. But all nine were singles, and the Blue Jays only managed single runs in the first and sixth innings.
Washburn won for just the second time in eight career starts against Toronto.
“I didn’t want to come out, but Mike said he owed me one,” Washburn said. “It’s hard to argue with him as well as our bullpen has done this season. But I’m never really happy about coming out of the game, especially when I think I have something left.”
After falling three outs short of a no-hitter against Colorado last Sunday, Toronto starter Dustin McGowan struggled.
McGowan (4-4) gave up a pair of infield singles in the first, followed by Ben Broussard’s two-out, two-run single that gave Seattle a 2-1 lead. McGowan was pulled after the fifth, giving up five runs and eight hits.
In the start before his near no-hitter, McGowan lasted just 1 2-3 innings against the Dodgers, allowing eight hits and six runs.
“He never could really get it going. I will say one thing, it could have been a heck of a lost worse, that’s for sure,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “He couldn’t get anything established.”
The Mariners added two more runs in the second, when McGowan lost his command. With a runner on second and two outs, McGowan walked Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Vidro to load the bases. Guillen drove in a run with a liner to right field, and Richie Sexson walked on a 3-2 pitch to plate another run.
Guillen also had an RBI single in the fourth, part of a three-hit night.
Toronto threatened in the sixth, getting one back on Curtis Thigpen’s flare that dropped into left field. But the threat ended when catcher Kenji Johjima forced Gregg Zahn at third base on a grounder in front of the plate, and Washburn raced off the mound to catch McDonald’s popup bunt.
The Mariners improved to 8-2 on their current season-high 12-game homestand. … McGowan had won four of his last five decisions.