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Furbush, Wilhelmsen solve Mariners' late-inning woes

The SportsXchange

Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge doesn't have quite the bullpen he thought he'd have coming into of spring training, but he's not arguing with the results.

Closer Brandon League has been moved out of that role after a series of inconsistent performances in May, and George Sherrill, who was supposed to be the eighth-inning left-hander, is out for the season following Tommy John surgery.

With those two out, right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen has stepped up as the closer, and lefty Charlie Furbush is claiming the eighth inning as his own.

Furbush threw a scoreless eighth inning Tuesday in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Oakland A's, and he improved to 4-1 when shortstop Brendan Ryan delivered a tiebreaking single in the bottom of the eighth. Wilhelmsen took over in the ninth and threw a 1-2-3 inning for his sixth save.

Furbush has a streak of 20 1/3 innings in which he hasn't allowed a run, the fourth-best mark in franchise history. He struck out the side, and he has now struck out at least one batter in each of his last 17 games.

"I don't know if (the eighth inning) is a defined role yet or not," Furbush said. "I'm just going out there and trying to do my job."

Wilhelmsen has not allowed a run in his last 13 appearances, a stretch of 15 2/3 innings. When he pitches in the ninth inning or later, he's limiting batters to a .118 average.

"Those two have really stepped up nicely for us," Wedge said.
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