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Mariners spoil Happ's return

The SportsXchange

SEATTLE - J.A. Happ got back on the mound Wednesday afternoon, but he couldn't get the Toronto Blue Jays a sweep.

In his first game back following a scary May 7 incident in which he took a line drive off his head, Happ pitched four strong innings before a shaky fifth inning ended his hopes of earning a win.

The Seattle Mariners used a six-run fifth inning to rally from an early deficit and avoid the sweep, beating the Blue Jays 9-7.

"It's definitely been a long road back," Happ said, "but at the same time I was ready to help us win. That didn't work out today."

Catcher Humberto Quintero's two-run home run off reliever Aaron Loup in the fourth gave the Mariners (53-61) the lead for good. Loup (4-4) suffered his first loss since May 9.

Seattle's Brandon Maurer (3-7) pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to earn the win while Danny Farquhar pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his third save.

Happ was charged with seven hits and seven runs - six earned - over four innings of work. Three of those runs came after he left the game without recording an out in the fifth.

"Obviously not how I wanted it to go," he said. "We should have won that game. We scored seven runs early, and I wasn't able to keep (the lead). Not the way I would have written it up."

Happ spent two months on the disabled list after suffering head and knee injuries. The Mariners welcomed him back to action with back-to-back hits to start the bottom of the first inning. Nick Franklin's RBI triple gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, then Franklin scored on

a Kyle Seager groundout.

Seattle starter Aaron Harang, who had pinpoint accuracy in the top of the first inning, lost his control in the second and eventually gave up three hits and three walks as Toronto took a 5-2 lead. The big blow came on Josh Thole's ground-rule double with the bases loaded.

Back-to-back home runs by Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind to open the third inning gave the Blue Jays a 7-2 lead and ended Harang's day early.

"It wasn't his day," Mariners manager Robby Thompson said, "but the bullpen picked him up."

He was charged for seven runs over two innings of work, raising his season ERA to 5.79. Wednesday marked the fourth time in 19 starts this season that Harang has failed to get past the fourth inning.

The Mariners finally got to Happ with a big inning of their own in the fifth. Justin Smoak's two-RBI double tied the score 7-7, then Humberto Quintero crushed a pitch from reliever Aaron Loup for a two-run homer to give Seattle a 9-7 lead.

During the six-run inning, Happ was charged with four runs - one was unearned after a Brett Lawrie error allowed Seattle's leadoff runner to reach base.

Toronto (53-61) had a chance to tie the score in the eighth, when a single, walk and passed ball put runners on second and third with two outs, but veteran lefty Oliver Perez came on to induce an inning-ending groundout and preserve the 9-7 lead.

Seattle used five relievers while throwing seven scoreless innings for the comeback win.

NOTES: Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia was a late scratch due to soreness in his right knee. He was replaced by Thole, who ended up starting all three games of the Seattle series. ... Home plate umpire Dale Scott took a Jose Bautista foul ball off his mask in the

top of the second inning, delaying the game for a few minutes. Trainers checked on Scott, who finished the inning but eventually had to come off the field. First-base umpire Todd Tichenor moved behind the plate for the final seven innings, which were played with a three-man umpiring crew. ... Mariners manager Eric Wedge visited the clubhouse before Wednesday's game, marking the second time he's addressed the team since suffering a minor stroke 2½ weeks ago. There is still no timetable for his return. For what it's worth, the Mariners are now 2-0 when Wedge makes a pre-game visit to the clubhouse.
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