SEATTLE — Left-hander Wade Miley returned Wednesday from the disabled list and took a beating over four innings and, really, he was the more fortunate member of the Mariners’ starting battery.
Catcher Steve Clevenger suffered a broken bone in his right hand when hit by a foul tip in the third inning and is almost certainly headed for the disabled list.
It wasn’t much of a game either.
Pittsburgh built an eight-run lead against Miley and reliever Donn Roach and gained a split in the two-game series with an 8-1 victory at Safeco Field. The loss dropped the Mariners back to .500 at 39-39.
"Not our finest performance," manager Scott Servais observed..
Miley (6-4) worked a one-two-three first inning in his first start since June 12 before giving up three runs in the second and two more in the fourth.
"No (shoulder) issues at all," he said. "I felt great. I just didn’t execute pitches. That was pretty much it. Command was the biggest thing. I’m throwing strikes, but I’m not commanding the ball.
"Everything is middle. I’m not able to get the breaking balls down. I had a couple of counts at 1-2 and tried to bounce a breaking ball. And I left them over the plate."
Roach took over in the fifth inning — and the game turned into a blowout when Sean Rodriguez’s three-run double extended the Pirates’ lead to 8-0.
The Mariners broke through later in the inning against Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon after Kyle Seager led off with a double that hopped the right-field wall. Adam Lind sliced a one-out RBI single to left.
That was all Taillon (2-1) allowed in six innings.
"The (curve) had finish, snap and bottom to it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He can throw it for a strike and he can throw it in the dirt for a chase.
"When you see hitters taking funny swings at it, you know it’s coming out of his hand looking like a strike and then it’s gone."
A.J. Schugel, Neftali Feliz and Tony Watson closed out the victory.
Rodriguez paced the Pirates’ 11-hit attack with a pair of doubles and four RBIs. Starling Marte was 3-for-4 and scored three runs.
Pittsburgh grabbed a 1-0 lead when David Freese tucked a first-pitch fastball just inside the right-field line for a leadoff homer in the second inning.
That was just the beginning.
Starling Marte lined a single into center and, after Miley hit Rodriguez with a pitch, Josh Harrison pulled a two-run double to left for a 3-0 lead.
The Pirates added two more runs in the fourth. Marte led off with a single and stole second before scoring on Rodriguez’s double to right. Rodriguez scored on Jordy Mercer’s two-out single through the left side.
"Miley had a hard time getting a rhythm going with any of his pitches," Servais said. "After that Roach struggled as well in getting the ball down. If the ball is up in this league, it’s going to get hit. It certainly was tonight."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Catcher Steve Clevenger left the game in the third inning after being hit in the throwing hand by a foul tip off the bat of Andrew McCutchen.
"It hit me pretty square," Clevenger said. "I was mainly on the ground because I couldn’t move my arm too much. It hurt."
An examination revealed Clevenger suffered a fractured third metacarpal bone (the bone in the hand leading to the middle finger).
Clevenger said ball hit him straight on the knuckle and pushed the knuckle back, which caused the metacarpal to snap.
"I’m going to see a hand specialist (Thursday) morning," he said, "and we’ll find out some more information."
What is certain is Clevenger is headed to the disabled list, which will require a roster move to add a catcher prior to Thursday’s game against Baltimore.
"We’ll have to make a move there," manager Scott Servais said. "Obviously, (Mike) Zunino is the guy down (at Triple-A Tacoma) playing a majority of the time, and he’s been doing well."
Zunino and Steve Baron are on the 40-man roster and could simply be recalled, but the Mariners could create a space for Rob Brantly or even Jesus Sucre by shifting injured pitcher Adrian Sampson to the 60-day DL.
PLUS: Nathan Karns began his new role as a reliever by striking out the side in a brisk sixth inning. He also struck out the side in the seventh, although the Pirates loaded the bases…Seth Smith had two hits after entering the game in a 1-for-11 skid…Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .305…lefty reliever David Rollins pitched two scoreless innings.
MINUS: Reliever Donn Roach didn’t help his already tenuous spot on a 13-man staff by giving up three runs in his only inning…third baseman Kyle Seager had two errors — his eighth and ninth of the season. He had just eight errors throughout the 2014 season when he won a Gold Glove for defensive excellence…Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play with two on and one out in the first inning and struck out with two on and one out in the sixth.
QUOTABLE: Nathan Karns had six strikeouts in his two innings, but manager Scott Servais saw reason for concern in Karns’ command problems when pitching from the stretch.
"That has been a little bit of an issue for him," Servais said. "We need to work through (that), obviously. Coming out of the bullpen, there are going to be plenty of times when he has to work from the stretch.
"Some good signs there. He was aggressive, but he did struggle a little bit in the second inning once the hit fell in, and he had to work from the stretch."
SHORT HOPS: Pittsburgh reliever A.J. Schugel, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, was a Mariner last winter for just over a month. The Mariners acquired him on Dec. 16 in a waiver claim from Arizona. He was designated for assignment Jan. 12 when the Mariners needed a roster spot after acquiring right-handed Joe Wieland from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade. The Pirates acquired Schugel in a Jan. 19 waiver claim.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners