(BaseballStL) -- Coming off a three-game sweep handed down by the 50-win Houston Astros, the Seattle Mariners began a 10-game road trip against the St. Louis Cardinals and ace pitcher Adam Wainwright on Friday.
It wasn’t a favorable matchup for the American League’s worst hitting team, but a 435-foot fifth inning solo blast from rookie catcher Mike Zunino created the only blemish for Wainwright and gave Seattle a chance.
The strong outing started out as expected for Wainwright against a team with a .240 batting average this season.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander for St. Louis allowed just one baserunner, via a walk, through the opening three innings while needing an efficient 37 pitches. He gave up his first base hits of the game to the Mariners No. 3 and 4 hitters, Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales, in the fourth inning.
A 20-pitch fifth inning brought some concern after the leadoff home run was followed by a 3-0 count, and eventual walk, to Nick Franklin. Wainwright got the opposing pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and leadoff man Matt Miller each out while Franklin advanced into scoring position at second base with two outs. The Cardinals avoided any further damage when Matt Carpenter ranged just into the grass behind second base to nab a ground ball hit by Abraham Almonte to save a run from scoring. Thinking about scoring, Franklin rounded third base before he slipped. A quick thinking throw to third base from Carpenter started a rundown which ended as the final out of the fifth.
Wainwright hurled three more scoreless innings and finished the game with just the one run allowed and six strikeouts over eight innings pitched. He allowed six hits and two walks in the 114-pitch outing.
On the flip side, the Cardinals offense couldn’t generate enough support for its ace off Seattle starter Iwakuma, who gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings, but managed to score a run off the Mariners bullpen after an error, a steal of third base, and a fielder’s choice which allowed a run to score in the eighth to tie it.
The run scored when the Mariners defense abandoned reliever Charlie Furbush, who came in to relieve Iwakuma after 94 pitches thrown, in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Shane Robinson entered in place of Daniel Descalso and struck out to start the inning. Brock Peterson, hitting in place of Wainwright, reached second base when Franklin let a routine pop up fall when he lost it in the lights in shallow right field. Pete Kozma entered the game as a pinch-runner and stole third base as Carpenter walked in a seven-pitch at-bat. Jon Jay grounded into a routine 4-6-3 double play, but first baseman Morales couldn’t handle the throw in the dirt by Miller at short. The missed catch resulted in a run, and a tie ballgame in the eighth.
It was a run that kept Wainwright from becoming the hard-luck loser on Friday night.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues for KMOV.com. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for updates.