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BAL@SEA: Wedge on Ramirez's good start in loss

SEATTLE -- The Mariners appeared to be on their way to a quick and tidy win on Tuesday. But then the Orioles scored twice in the ninth to tie the game, and that notion went quickly out the window. So did the win.

What transpired after that fateful ninth was the second-longest home game in Mariners history, one played well into the night, that saw Seattle drop an 18-inning marathon to the Orioles, 4-2, at Safeco Field in a drawn-out five hours and 44 minutes.

It is the longest Mariners game in terms of time since June 2004, when Seattle played five hours and 47 minutes in Texas. That was also the last time the Mariners played 18 innings. The only game Seattle has played more innings at home was on Aug. 1, 2000, against the Red Sox, which lasted 19 innings.

The Orioles finally broke the tie in the 18th, when Nate McLouth led off with a walk and J.J. Hardy followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Taylor Teagarden came on to pinch-hit and produced the go-ahead single, scoring McLouth. One out later, a groundout by Mark Reynolds provided the insurance run.

"You'd have to be real picky to find something not to be proud of in that game," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "The whole dugout was alive the whole game. It wasn't ever 'woe is me, we have to play another inning.' There were so many opportunities to give in, and they didn't. Hats off to the Mariners, they did the same thing."

The Mariners had plenty of opportunities in extras, as runners reached base in each inning. But an inability to put down a successful sacrifice bunt and five combined strikeouts with men on base limited their ability to push across the winning run.

For the game, the Mariners went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 16 men on base. The team struck out 18 times.

"That's a scenario you don't get into too much, but every now and again up here, that does happen," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "It's tough on both sides, offensively. Everybody wants it so bad. I mean, we had so many opportunities. I mean, we had so many opportunities. One more hit and the game's over.

"It wasn't that we weren't creating opportunities. A couple bunts we didn't get down, that definitely hurt us, but we still had opportunities on top of that. Nobody stepped up, offensively."

The Orioles were handcuffed all night by Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez but finally broke through in the ninth inning. Ryan Flaherty and McLouth led off the inning with a pair of singles to chase Ramirez. Hardy advanced them with a sacrifice bunt. Chris Davis followed with a single off closer Tom Wilhelmsen just past the glove of Dustin Ackley at second to plate both runners and tie the score at 2.

A week after securing his first Major League win, Ramirez looked to be in line to win his second game in as many starts, as he kept Baltimore batters off-balance with a mix of fastballs in the mid-90s and a sharp command of his offspeed pitches.

Ramirez controlled the game from the first batter and did not allow a hit until McLouth led off the fourth with a single. McLouth's double in the sixth was the only other hit the Orioles managed until they knocked Ramirez from the game with a pair of singles to begin the ninth. The right-hander struck out six and walked none.

"Honestly, the thing was be aggressive in the strike zone, keep the ball down," Ramirez said.

For Ramirez, it was another impressive start in what has been limited opportunities. The Nicaraguan began the season as a long reliever, but the Mariners converted him to a starter in June. After recovering from a tough couple of starts, Ramirez threw an eight-inning gem, but then injured his elbow during his next outing. Tuesday was only his third outing since rejoining the team after September callups.

In his last three starts, dating back to before the injury, Ramirez is 1-0 with 1.75 ERA.

"Ramirez was fantastic. Threw a great ballgame," Wedge said. "You look back at the previous two ballgames before he got hurt and then, of course, the last two, that's what you want to see, that's what you love to see. Did a great job."

For eight innings, the only runs of the game came on a two-run home run by Miguel Olivo in the fourth, when the Seattle backstop hammered a hanging breaking ball off the out-of-town scoreboard in left field.

The Mariners have homered in nine straight games, which is the second-longest streak of the season. The only longer streak was when they hit home runs in 11 consecutive contests from Aug. 17-28.

Michael Saunders was ejected for arguing the called third strike to end the 10th and had to be led off the field by bench coach Robby Thompson as Wedge had words with home-plate umpire Jordan Baker.

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