SEATTLE (AP) -- At times this week, Tyler Clippard must have felt like he was a one-man team.
He has taken three solo flights around the country to make a pair of starts for the Washington Nationals. In one day, out the next.Even his solid effort Saturday in the Nationals' 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners won't keep him in the big leagues. Clippard will be back on a plane to Triple-A Columbus on Monday."Obviously, I want to be here. I feel I should be here. But that's out of my hands," said Clippard, who went six-plus innings, allowing seven hits and two runs.Clippard (1-1) was called up from the Clippers last Sunday to start Monday against the San Francisco Giants. He went just 4 2/3 innings -- allowing five hits and three runs -- in a 3-2 loss. He was sent back down to Columbus the next day."The day I got back to Columbus, they told me I was coming back up," he said. "It was crazy. I'm wondering what's going on, if I'm going to be here, if I'm not, whatever? They tell me what I'm going to do and I do it."Clippard was called up to take the start of Odalis Perez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list (shoulder tendinitis) Friday, retroactive to June 11. Then after the game Clippard was told he will be sent back to Columbus on Monday when the club activates Paul LoDuca (hand) from the DL."He did a very good job for us," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "As far as getting another chance, he'll get another chance but he's going to be optioned down."Jesus Flores provided the key hit, a tiebreaking two-run home run in the seventh inning. Flores, who had three RBIs, hit a two-out, 2-2 pitch from Miguel Batista (3-8) into the left-field bullpen for his fourth home run.Jon Rauch struck out the side in the ninth for his 15th save in 18 opportunities. He also saved Friday's 7-6 victory.Jose Vidro and Adrian Beltre each had solo home runs for the Mariners.Flores, like Clippard, also may be a victim of numbers. With LoDuca returning, he'll assume the starting catching spot. But Acta hasn't made that commitment yet."There are a lot of at-bats left, but the way he's [Flores] playing right now there's no way we're going to not play the kid and not feel like he's part of our lineup," Acta said. "He's doing it defensively, offensively. As far as Paul is concerned, he's going to get his playing time, too. He's going to get his starts. They'll be at-bats for everybody."Flores had an RBI single in the first off Mariners starter Erik Bedard and could have scored more but Dmitri Young was thrown out at the plate.In the bottom half, Ichiro Suzuki was thrown out trying to stretch a hit to a triple with a precise relay throw from Felipe Lopez to Ronnie Belliard.That same Belliard-Lopez combination produced the Nationals' second run in the fourth. They opened the inning with back-to-back doubles.The Nationals had a runner in scoring position in every inning. They managed to score at least one run in four of those innings. They were 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners were 0-for-3Seattle responded in the bottom half with solo shots from Vidro and Beltre to tie the score.The Mariners had a two-out rally in the sixth after a Vidro walk and a double to right by Raul Ibanez. Beltre was intentionally walked to load the bases for Richie Sexson. Sexson, who has not hit a home run since May 24, struck out."That was huge, man. That was a big out obviously," Clippard said of the Sexson strikeout. "The game could have gone one way or the other. I'm just glad I got him and go on from there."Sexson, hitting just .212, was booed heavily by the home crowd."He wants to do well and he is working hard," Mariners' manager John McLaren said of Sexson. "He is working extremely hard and he gets caught up in the situation sometimes, I think."Belliard drove in the final run in the ninth with a two-out double.
Mariners reliever Mark Lowe threw exclusively out of the stretch Friday for the first time. He tossed two hitless innings with three strikeouts. "I like what I see," McLaren said. "There's no loss of velocity. It doesn't look like he rushes as much. With the windup, it looked like he was real quick." Lowe will be critical to the bullpen's success with closer J.J. Putz on the 15-day DL. Brandon Morrow now will do much of the closing work while Lowe will slip in the Morrow's role as the setup guy. ... Home plate umpire Jerry Crawford developed back spasms and had to leave in the bottom of the third. Just three umpires worked the rest of the game, with Paul Nauert taking over behind the plate.