WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 tossing 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 sweep.
``We had three tough days here,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``Our starting pitching was fantastic. There's was good, too, obviously. We had opportunities and we didn't take advantage of them.'
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 fellow 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 once over the next 22 innings.
In the finale they were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring positions, 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 and struck out swinging.
``In a tight ballgame, particularly a nothing-nothing ball game, 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.'
Michael Morse opened the ninth for the Nationals with a single to left, and Espinosa followed by dragging a bunt for a single. Pinch-runner Brian Bixler entered for Morse and Ivan Rodriguez bunted to move the runners over. 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 as 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.
Tyler Clippard (1-0) pitched the ninth for the Nationals, who treated their return to .500 on Wednesday as a milestone event, the result of a climb from a nine-games-under hole in just two weeks. But, as manager Jim Riggleman said before Thursday's game: ``We're not striving to be .500; we've got to raise the bar.'
The Nationals will have to continue doing that sort of lifting without him.
Now the Mariners head back for home after their less than fortuitous journey east, looking to right the losing ways.
``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.'
NOTES: The Mariners had a new No. 2 batter. 2B Dustin Ackley, who had a hit in each of his first five games, batted second for the first time. He went 0 for 3. ... The Mariners return home for some away games starting Friday. Their three-game series against the Florida Marlins was moved to Seattle because Sun Life Stadium is preparing for a U2 concert. Florida will remain the home team and will bat last, and the series will be played under NL rules, without a designated hitter. ``Being a visiting team in your home ballpark, that'll be a different feel,' Wedge said. ... Washington has won nine straight vs. Seattle and is unbeaten against the Mariners since moving to the nation's capital in 2005.
The Associated Press News Service
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