Mariners salvage split of four-game series vs. Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Less than 42 hours had passed since Brandon Morrow's disastrous first outing of the season.

If walking three straight to eventually set up Alexi Casilla's winning hit on Tuesday night wasn't still fresh in his mind when Seattle's new closer took the mound in the ninth on Thursday, it didn't take long for those memories to rush back.

Morrow walked Michael Cuddyer on four pitches leading off but then steeled himself and responded with two strikeouts and a pop out to get his first save of the season in the Mariners' 2-0 win over the Twins.

"I might have been a little jacked up for the first batter after Tuesday's game," Morrow said. "I just said, 'I'm not going to let this happen again.'"

Jarrod Washburn (1-0) gave up five hits with four strikeouts and one walk in eight innings for his first victory in seven starts since July 27. Adrian Beltre and Rob Johnson had RBI singles for the Mariners, who split the four-game set.

After Morrow gave up three runs in the ninth on Tuesday night in a 6-5 loss, new manager Don Wakamatsu sent the 24-year-old right back out there again.

"It took me a little while to put it out of my head," Morrow said. "But I was just glad to get out there again."

Cuddyer never got the bat off his shoulder, but Morrow struck out Justin Morneau and Joe Crede looking and then got pinch-hitter Jason Kubel on a flyout to close it out.

"I don't think my approach was very good there," Morneau said. "The guy was erratic. He was all over the place. ... You've got to be ready to hit that one pitch in case he makes that mistake, and unfortunately I'll learn from that and next time we face him I'll be ready."

Wakamatsu said there was no hesitation to give Morrow, who won the closing job late in spring training, another chance.

"After that first batter, we were all kind of waiting to see if he would take a deep breath and come back and he did," Wakamatsu said.

Glen Perkins (0-1) gave up just one run and five hits in eight innings and struck out four, but that wasn't quite good enough against Washburn, who has always fared well here.

He is 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in eight starts at the Metrodome, so it would be hard to think of a better place for him to begin this year and quickly put last year behind him.

Washburn went 5-14 with a 4.69 ERA, the highest he's had in a full season in his career. He started 26 games but had just one appearance in the final month of the season after suffering an abdominal strain.

Seattle's offense no doubt gave Washburn plenty of stomach problems as well. He received just 4.10 runs of support per game last season, which was the fourth fewest in the AL. Since his final season with the Angels in 2005, Washburn's 4.29 runs of help are the fewest among all AL starters.

The lefty didn't need much help on Thursday. He retired the first eight hitters, even shaking off a bouncer from Mike Redmond that hit off his calf.

"He came out tonight and was just amazing," Wakamatsu said.

Sprinkling a brand new sinker in with his usual assortment of offspeed pitches, Washburn kept a Twins team that had six extra-base hits on Wednesday night completely off-balance. Morneau nearly swung out of his shoes while ripping at a 65-mph slow slider for strike three to lead off the second inning.

He also benefited from some outstanding defense, including center fielder Franklin Gutierrez's diving grab of a gapper by Casilla in the first inning.

"I gave him a big hug," Washburn said. "I'll probably give him another one."

Perkins, who won 12 games last year in his first full season as a starter, wasn't as sharp as Washburn, but he was nearly as effective.

After giving up a double to Gutierrez and an RBI-single to Beltre to fall behind 1-0 in the first inning, the lefty settled down. Only two Mariners reached second base after that and Perkins retired 14 of the last 15 hitters he faced.

"It's early," Perkins said with a shrug. "We'll score some runs. I don't think anyone's too worried about it."Game notes
Redmond returned after missing the previous two with a groin injury. He went 1-for-2 with a walk but hobbled on the bases. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to argue with second base umpire Chuck Meriweather in the first. Gardenhire said he told Meriweather there was a "99.9 percent" chance Gutierrez trapped the ball, but once he saw a replay the manager realized the umpire was right. ... Not to be outdone, Wakamatsu argued a close play when Morneau flipped a grounder to Perkins at first to get Gutierrez in the third.