Orioles 5, Mariners 2

-- On the day Erik Bedard made his major league debut for the Baltimore Orioles -- April 17, 2002 at Yankee Stadium -- it was easy to picture a glorious future, filled with wins stacked upon wins, for the lefty rated the top prospect in the Orioles' farm system. Two years, one month and one elbow surgery later, Bedard finally gained career win No. 1 on a cold, damp night at Safeco Field.

Facing the woeful Seattle Mariners in his sixth start of the season, Bedard carried a shutout into the seventh inning and settled for a 5-2 win that was nearly wiped out by another shaky performance from the Orioles' bullpen detonator.

Relieving Bedard (1-1) with two on and two outs in the seventh, veteran right-hander Mike DeJean -- he of the 6.08 ERA and .362 opponents' batting average -- allowed a run-scoring single and a walk that loaded the bases, before Edgar Martinez struck out looking on a borderline 3-2 fastball.

The Mariners brought the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings, as well, before closer Jorge Julio struck out Martinez with a slider to end the game.

The ball, per baseball tradition, made its way to Bedard's locker as a memento.

"I'm just feeling great," Bedard said. "To come all that way, with the surgery and everything else, it's great. I hope there are many more [wins] to come."

Said Manager Lee Mazzilli: "I'm pretty happy for him. He's come a long way. To come back and throw the way he's throwing, it's a good sign for us."

Melvin Mora, the American League's leading hitter (.383), broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the sixth, and Luis Matos came within a triple of hitting for the cycle, as the Orioles (20-16) won their third straight.

Bedard had not pitched beyond the fifth inning in any of his five previous starts this season. And no doubt, the emergence in the past week of right-hander Daniel Cabrera -- who beat both the Chicago White Sox and the Mariners in convincing fashion in his first two big-league starts -- has caused Bedard to take notice of his own precarious spot in the rotation.

Bedard was almost unhittable in the early innings, carrying a one-hitter -- that one hit being a bloop single by Bret Boone -- into the sixth. He struck out the side in the third -- blowing a 92-mph fastball past Rich Aurilia, freezing Randy Winn with a 93-mph fastball at the knees, then getting Ichiro Suzuki to whiff at a curve ball.

In all, Bedard set down 12 straight Mariners batters -- half of them via strikeouts -- before Dan Wilson and Rich Aurilia drew consecutive two-out walks in the fifth. Bedard pitched out of that jam, and another in the sixth, before Mazzilli finally yanked him with the tying runs on base in the seventh.

In the climactic at-bat of the game -- with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh -- DeJean fell behind in the count to Martinez 2-0 and again 3-1.

Martinez fouled off a fastball to go to 3-2, then declined to offer at a low fastball on the outside corner. Plate umpire Larry Young called strike three, bringing an impassioned protest from Martinez and Mariners Manager Bob Melvin.

Mariners right-hander Ryan Franklin (2-4) matched zeroes with Bedard until the sixth, when Orioles second-baseman-cum-designated-hitter Jerry Hairston led off with a single, and later scored on Mora's double down the third-base line.

The end came for Franklin with one out in the seventh. Jay Gibbons smashed a hanging breaking ball into the stands in right for his fifth homer, and before Franklin could record another out, Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie had laced doubles, and Hairston had added an RBI single, making it 4-0.

Orioles Notes: The Orioles will give ace Sidney Ponson an extra day of rest next time through the rotation -- he will start at Anaheim on Saturday night -- in order to get him lined up to face the New York Yankees twice in the next two weeks. The Orioles' starters for the Anaheim series will be Eric DuBose, Ponson and Cabrera. . . .

Lefty Adam Loewen, the Orioles' top-rated pitching prospect, was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday for Class A Delmarva because of a strained muscle in his ribcage. "It's no big deal," said Orioles farm director Darrell "Doc" Rodgers. "We figured we'd play it safe and go ahead and have him miss one start, before it starts affecting something else, like his arm." . . .

Mazzilli said he will not put right-hander Rodrigo Lopez on a strict pitch-count when Lopez makes his first start of the season here Thursday night, but Lopez will probably not be allowed to go much past 90 pitches.

Orioles starter Erik Bedard (1-1) pitches 62/3 innings, gives up two runs on four hits and four walks, striking out seven.