SPORTS

On The Mark: Buehrle outduels Walker as Blue Jays beat Mariners 1-0

09/24/2014 09:18 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Toronto starter Mark Buehrle needed just six frames Wednesday night to reach the 200-inning plateau for the 14th consecutive season.

He achieved his goal in style by nearly going the distance in one of his finest starts of the year.

Buehrle was masterful on a cool, breezy evening at Rogers Centre, striking out 10 and allowing three hits over eight-plus innings as the Blue Jays topped the Seattle Mariners 1-0.

"He was as good as you're ever going to see him," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "He was strong the whole night. His ball was really ducking and darting in there."

Buehrle threw 64 of his 93 pitches for strikes and allowed one walk. The announced crowd of 16,836 gave him a standing ovation when he reached the 200-inning mark and again when he was pulled after giving up a leadoff single in the ninth.

"It means a lot because I had put this goal on myself in spring training," Buehrle said. "Obviously getting there means a lot. It's disappointing because we're going home on Sunday, we're not going to continue playing — especially the way I felt and the way my ball was moving tonight, I almost want to throw tomorrow.

"I felt that good and my ball was moving. I guess that's the disappointing thing and (it's) frustrating that I feel this good and I'm done."

Toronto (81-77) was eliminated from post-season contention a night earlier.

The Mariners' playoff hopes took another hit with their fifth straight loss. Seattle (83-75), which has an elimination number of two, is three games out of an American League wild-card spot.

The game was scoreless until the eighth inning. Munenori Kawasaki drew a one-out walk, Anthony Gose struck out and Ryan Goins followed with a blooper into shallow right-centre field.

Kawasaki was running on contact and was waved home when the ball dropped in and took a big bounce on the artificial turf.

Taijuan Walker (2-3) was the hard-luck loser. He pitched a career-high eight innings, allowing one earned run, four hits and a walk while striking out six.

"That young man threw a tremendous ball game," said Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon. "He really stepped up, he did everything we asked him to do."

Buehrle (13-10) gave up a leadoff single to Chris Taylor in the ninth. Reliever Aaron Sanchez came on and picked off pinch-runner James Jones at first base before getting the next two outs for his third save.

Toronto extended its winning streak to three in a game that took only one hour 59 minutes to complete. It was the first major-league game under the two-hour mark since June 2012.

The teams breezed through the first three innings with a Jose Bautista single and double by Seattle's Corey Hart providing the only early ticks in the hit column. Bautista, who entered the game with an American League-leading .409 on-base percentage, has reached base safely in 27 straight games.

Dustin Ackley beat out an infield single to open the fourth inning. Buehrle needed only three pitches to get Robinson Cano to pop up and cleanup man Kendrys Morales to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

Walker answered with a similar display in the fifth. The slow-moving Dioner Navarro led off with a drive to the wall but stayed at first base rather than challenge right-fielder Logan Morrison's arm.

The Seattle starter got Dalton Pompey of Mississauga, Ont., to pop up and Kawasaki to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

Buehrle put on the leadoff man in the sixth by issuing a walk to Mike Zunino, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor. The veteran southpaw responded by fanning Austin Jackson and Ackley.

Gose made a great sliding catch on a sinking liner in shallow centre field to deny Morrison a hit in the seventh. Buehrle fanned Hart and Zunino to keep the game scoreless.

"The way my ball was moving, it was almost at times moving too much where I couldn't control it," Buehrle said. "(I was) getting ahead in the strike zone, hitting my spots and the ball was moving."

Notes: It was Buehrle's 461st consecutive start without a disabled list stint. ... Buehrle has recorded at least 10 wins, 200 innings and 30 starts in 14 straight seasons — the longest active streak in the major leagues. He's the first pitcher to achieve that feat since Gaylord Perry did it over 15 years from 1966-'80. Don Sutton also recorded at least 200 innings pitched per year in the same span. The 1981 strike ended both streaks. ... Left-hander Daniel Norris (0-0, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays in the series finale Thursday night. The Mariners will counter with right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen (3-2, 2.10). ... Toronto will close out the regular season with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles beginning Friday.

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