WASHINGTON — For many, a trip to the nation’s capital is an ideal summer getaway. Don’t expect the Seattle Mariners to have too many fond memories of their visit.
The Mariners lost their third straight one-run game to the Washington Nationals, 1-0, on Thursday, spoiling a strong outing by rookie Michael Pineda, who tossed seven shutout innings.
Jason Marquis matched Pineda pitch for pitch, but the Nationals scored on pinch-hitter Laynce Nix’s sacrifice fly off Chris Ray (3-2) in the ninth to complete the interleague sweep.
“We had three tough days here,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Our starting pitching was fantastic. Theirs was good, too, obviously. We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
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Nix’s fly to left off Ray was deep enough to score Danny Espinosa, who easily beat a throw from Mike Carp that was well up the first-base line, lifting the Nationals to their 11th win in 12 games. Afterward, Washington manager Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned over a contract dispute.
The Mariners fell below .500 for the first time since May 25.
After scoring five runs during the first five innings of the series, the Mariners’ bats went silent, scoring one run the next 22 innings.
In the finale, the Mariners went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, failing to bring home a runner from third in the sixth and seventh innings. Justin Smoak doubled with one out in the ninth, but both Miguel Olivo and Mike Carp struck out swinging.
“In a tight ballgame, particularly a nothing-nothing ballgame, somebody’s got to step up and come through,” said Wedge. “Nobody did today.”
Marquis, who lost a no-hit bid on a single by Pineda with one out in the sixth, allowed three hits over eight innings with three walks and four strikeouts.
Pineda gave up four hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts and one walk — and an impressive 70 of his 97 pitches were strikes. Pineda hit a weak bloop to center for his first career hit.
“Michael was tremendous again today,” Wedge said. “I thought he handled everything very well.”
Former Mariners utility man Michael Morse opened the ninth for the Nationals with a single to left, and Espinosa followed by dragging a bunt for a single to the right. Pinch-runner Brian Bixler entered for Morse and Ivan Rodriguez bunted to move the runners up. First baseman Adam Kennedy threw late to third to try to get the lead runner, leaving the bases loaded with none out.
“Bixler made that play,” a frustrated Kennedy said. “Pudge made as good a bunt as you can. … I’m not even looking, just turning and throwing.”
Shortstop Jack Wilson kept Seattle alive by making a diving backhand stop on a grounder by Jerry Hairston with the infield in, then throwing from his knees to force Bixler at the plate.
“It’s a long season. I’m not happy about this road trip,” Wedge said. “Nobody out there is. We pick ourselves back up again, go home, separate from this and get right back on track.”
The Mariners will host the Florida Marlins in a three-game series at Safeco Field to be played without the DH. It is the Marlins’ home series, moved for a scheduling conflict. Scheduled pitching matchup tonight at 7:10 and broadcast on Root Sports TV and 710-AM: Felix Hernandez (7-6, 3.34 ERA) vs. Florida’s Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.48).