SEATTLE (AP) — Doug Fister found himself trying to explain a fourth straight loss that had more to do with Seattle's absent offense when he's on the mound than a mistake made by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi that no one caught.
Fister threw his third complete game of the season on Saturday night, but Seattle's anemic offense couldn't overcome a walk mistakenly awarded to San Diego's Cameron Maybin that led to the only run in the Padres' 1-0 win.
While much of the attention was on the three-ball walk to Maybin, the Mariners had a season-low two hits — both by rookie outfielder Greg Halman.
"Doug threw his tail off and it's frustrating when something like that, but we've got to do a better job offensively," Seattle catcher Josh Bard said. "That shouldn't have been a thing that decided it. He did a great job and obviously it's frustrating, but it's on us ... we've got to score some runs."
The strange circumstances surrounding Saturday night's only run added another chapter to Fister's hard-luck month.
It was Fister's third straight start of at least eight innings and just one earned run, with no victories in the stretch. This time, Fister gave up just six hits and struck out seven.
Fister's only walk was to Maybin in the fifth. He's now received two runs or less of support in 13 of his 17 starts and has the lowest run support of any pitcher in the American League.
And the one time Seattle did score some runs for Fister on June 21 against Washington, the bullpen imploded by allowing five runs in the ninth inning.
"It's not any more frustrating than losing it any other way," said Fister, who has lost four straight decisions. "It's just something that slipped away and we've got to come back tomorrow and pick it up."
With one out in the fifth, Maybin walked when a pitch was called high by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. A video review of the at-bat by official scorer Dan Peterson confirmed the count should have been 3-2 when Maybin walked.
No argument was made by anyone on the field and the stadium scoreboard showed a three-ball count before Fister (3-9) delivered the pitch.
After the game, the umpiring crew huddled, reviewed the tape and agreed Maybin should not have walked. Crew chief Tom Hallion said Cuzzi's hand indicator had the count at 2-2, but he noted the stadium scoreboard read 3-2 before Fister's pitch missed high.
"My plate umpire thought his count was wrong. The scoreboard had 3-2 and he thought he was wrong because when Maybin took off for first, nobody said anything," Hallion said. "The catcher didn't react, the dugout didn't react so he thought he had the wrong count.
"Do we feel bad? Absolutely. We count the pitches and it was just one of those things that gets away with you with the scoreboard having the 3-2 count up there and then nothing being said by anybody, he thought he had the wrong count."
The missed count became an issue when Maybin scored on Alberto Gonzalez's hard one-hopper that skipped off shortstop Brendan Ryan's glove and into left field, and Seattle failed to mount any sort of offense against spot starter Cory Luebke (2-2), who threw six innings. Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 24th save.
"We had a couple of opportunities we didn't take advantage of," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "We were aggressive last night, we weren't as aggressive tonight. We fouled off some pitches we should have gotten to, took some pitches we should have taken passes at."
Luebke (2-2) allowed two hits, and Chad Qualls and Mike Adams each got three outs before Bell finished the game.
But all the attention was on Maybin's strange at-bat and how the mistake with the count went unnoticed on the field.
Maybin fell behind 0-2, then fouled off a pitch before Fister missed to make the count 1-2. Maybin fouled off another before Fister missed with a curveball in the dirt. The count both in the stadium and on the television broadcast showed 3-2 and the next pitch missed high with Maybin walking to first base and no one making an argument.
Fister said he wasn't aware of the wrong count.
"I was focused on making each pitch. Mistakes happen like that and it just slipped by and that's the game," he said.
Seattle got a break in the seventh when Jason Bartlett committed his 13th error of the season on Ryan's grounder up the middle. Ryan then stole second and moved to third when Franklin Gutierrez flew out to the warning track in right field.
Qualls got Justin Smoak to wave at strike three low and away, then got a pop out from Halman to end the threat.
NOTES: Seattle kept C Miguel Olivo (hamstring) and 2B Dustin Ackley (bruised rib) out of the lineup. Both said they could play and may be back in the lineup Sunday. ... Padres 2B Orlando Hudson is likely to miss a few days after fouling a pitch off his left knee on Friday night. Manager Bud Black said they believe just a few days off is all Hudson will need. ... Qualls made the 500th appearance of his major league career. All have come in relief.
Tim Booth can be reached at http://twitter.com/tjbooth7