M's turnaround faltering after sweep

Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis (21) heads for third on a triple as Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager waits for the ball during the third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis (21) heads for third on a triple as Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager waits for the ball during the third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, in Baltimore.

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BALTIMORE — The Mariners left Seattle last week riding a wave of energy, believing they had finally turned a corner.

Instead, they’ve found more misery waiting around that bend. And after getting swept by the Orioles, much of the good vibe they took on the road has disintegrated.

Their 9-2 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Camden Yards was dismal in just about every way, except for a two-run homer by Kyle Seager.

The Mariners have lost five of the first six games on the trip, with a visit to Anaheim for a three-game series looming. Remember when they were starting to creep back into the fringes of the wild-card race — 71/2 games out when the trip began? Now, not so much, after falling 11 games under .500 at 51-62.

“It sucked,” losing pitcher Kevin Millwood said of the Orioles series. “We started playing pretty well and didn’t play bad in New York. We didn’t play real well here at all.”

A night after a walkoff Seattle loss in 14 innings, Millwood struggled in his brief outing, lasting just four innings and giving up eight hits and seven runs. In two games since the trade deadline, when there was speculation Millwood would be traded, he has pitched 10 innings, given up 17 hits and has a 9.90 earned-run average.

“We didn’t help him out at all early,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, noting some defensive lapses. “Of those first four (Baltimore) runs, maybe one of them would have happened. We didn’t make any plays. We didn’t make any errors, but we didn’t make any plays. At the big-league level, we’ve got to make those plays.”

Wedge also wasn’t happy with Munenori Kawasaki’s at-bat during an early scoring opportunity. With the bases loaded and one out in the second, Kawasaki elected to bunt — and not well. It went back to the pitcher, who easily got the force at home, and the Mariners didn’t score.

The 37-year-old Millwood, who had a 4-16 record for the Orioles in 2010, fell to 4-10 this season.

“The ball was up,” he said. “It was good to see some old friends and be able to talk to those guys, but it’s no fun stinkin’.”

The winning pitcher, Steve Johnson, had quite a night in his major-league starting debut and second career appearance. The right-hander is a Baltimore native and son of Dave Johnson, former Orioles pitcher and current broadcaster. The younger Johnson earned his first major-league win 23 years to the day his dad did the same for the Orioles.

Johnson nearly struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning before the third hitter, Jesus Montero, singled on an 0-2 pitch. Instead, Johnson fanned the side on 12 pitches — all strikes.

In six innings, he struck out nine and gave up just the two runs resulting from Seager’s 13th homer, his second in as many nights. Johnson, by the way, came to the Orioles from the Dodgers in a trade for ex-Mariner George Sherrill, who went to Baltimore in the ill-fated Erik Bedard trade.

Meanwhile, the Orioles offense was breaking loose for 14 hits, with Matt Wieters continuing to lead the way. A night after homering twice, Wieters drove in five runs with a pair of two-run doubles and an RBI ground out.

A night after having 18 hits in a loss, the Mariners managed just six. They have scored just 16 runs in six games on the trip (2.67 per game), and seven came in Tuesday’s loss.

“I don’t think we’ve been playing bad; we just haven’t been hitting,” Wedge said.

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