Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
TORONTO (AP) — Taijuan Walker turned in the best start of his career, but it wasn't enough to get the slumping Seattle Mariners back on track.
Mark Buehrle pitched eight shutout innings to reach 200 innings for the 14th consecutive season, Ryan Goins drove in the only run of the game and the Toronto Blue Jays pushed Seattle closer to playoff elimination, beating the Mariners 1-0 Wednesday night.
Walker (2-3) pitched his first career complete game, ending Seattle's four-game streak of starting pitchers failing to complete five innings. The rookie right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out six.
"That young man threw a tremendous ball game," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "His last two outings have really given us a glimpse of the future."
The Mariners lost their fifth straight and have dropped nine of 12. Seattle had inched closer in the wild card race when Oakland lost to the Angels Wednesday afternoon, but the defeat dropped them three games back with four to play.
That left Walker struggling to see the good side of his strong outing.
"It was a huge game that we needed to win," Walker said. "It's kind of tough right now."
Buehrle (13-10) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out 10, one shy of his season high. He left to his second standing ovation of the night after Chris Taylor's leadoff single in the ninth.
"That was vintage Buehrle," McClendon said.
Aaron Sanchez came on and picked off pinch runner James Jones, then got the final two outs for his third save in as many chances.
Buehrle had 194 innings on the season coming in, and reached 200 by striking out Dustin Ackley looking for the final out of the sixth. Country music played as Buehrle's achievement was noted on the scoreboard, and the crowd of 16,836 rose for a standing ovation. Buehrle accepted congratulations from his teammates before coming out of the dugout for a brief curtain call.
"He was as good as you?re ever going to see him," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Hall of Famers Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry each had 14 consecutive seasons of 200 innings or more from 1966 to 1980, but both pitchers saw their streaks snapped by the 1981 player's strike.
Buehrle retired the first six batters in order before Corey Hart led off the third with a ground rule double that bounced on the right field foul line and into the seats. Gibbons came out to challenge but the call stood. Hart went to third on Taylor's one-out fly ball, but Austin Jackson was caught looking to end the inning.
The Blue Jays didn't put a runner in scoring position through the first seven innings, and still hadn't when they broke the deadlock in the eighth. Kawasaki drew a one-out walked and scored from first when Goins dropped a bloop single in front of Jackson in center, who was playing deep to prevent a double.
"It's very unfortunate," McClendon said. "It landed in a spot where nobody could get it, and it was on turf where it bounced high."
At a brisk 1 hour, 59 minutes, this was the fastest game of the season for both teams, and the first game to finish in less than two hours since San Diego lost 1-0 at Houston on June 27, 2012.
The only season that Buehrle failed to reach 200 innings was 2000, his rookie year. Back then, a barrel of oil cost $30, Hilary Clinton was elected to the Senate, and Tiger Woods was the youngest Grand Slam winner in golf history.
Mariners RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (3-2) will face Blue Jays LHP Daniel Norris (0-0) in Thursday's series finale. Norris will be making his first major league start, while Wilhelmsen is coming out of the bullpen to make his second start of the season. He replaces RHP Chris Young, who was dropped from Seattle's rotation after going 0-3 with a 8.35 ERA in his previous five starts.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.