ARLINGTON, Texas — The biggest ignominy suffered by the Seattle Mariners might not have been the sight of Franklin Gutierrez having a home run snared away from him by a pot-bellied, jig-dancing hometown fan.
That theft job came on a fourth-inning home run Saturday night by A.J. Pierzynski that had the ball-catching fan dancing demonstratively in the center-field bleachers while a perturbed Gutierrez lamented his near-catch. But the bigger jab in the midsection of a Mariners team beaten 5-0 by the Texas Rangers came three innings later when David Murphy clubbed another solo homer on only the second hit of the night against starter Brandon Maurer.
Those two hits were all Maurer gave up over 62/3 innings, but they were enough for the Mariners to take their eighth loss in the past 11 games.
Texas managed a third hit on an infield single in the eighth off reliever Charlie Furbush. Then, after a walk issued by new pitcher Yoervis Medina, a wild pitch and a passed ball, Lance Berkman notched the fourth Texas hit to bring in two more runs. Pierzynski added a final run on a single that inning to give Texas the first two games of this series, in front of 43,025 fans at The Ballpark.
The Mariners mustered just five hits, none for extra bases and have gone 19 innings without scoring. Their offensive futility in continued despite the fact Rangers starter Nick Tepesch had to leave just 11/3 innings in after being hit by a comebacker.
Derek Lowe shut the Mariners down in four hitless innings of relief to earn the victory, while other relievers thwarted multiple-runner rallies in the seventh and eighth.
The Mariners entered the night having struck out 13 times in the series opener and 44 times in their past three games. Things didn’t begin all that well for them in this one, either, as the Mariners struck out three more times in their first five at-bats.
But Rangers starter Tepesch didn’t last long after that third whiff as, two batters later, Jesus Montero smoked him on the arm with a comebacker. Tepesch tried to shake it off, but was pulled from the game as a precaution with what the Rangers described as a contusion.
Lowe came in and looked like he’d turned back the clock a decade to his days helping the Red Sox win a World Series. The Mariners kept pounding sinker after sinker into the ground with little-to-no adjustments to be seen.
At one point, between the fourth and the start of the seventh, Lowe recorded seven consecutive outs via ground balls. Lowe was pulled with two outs in the sixth and replaced by left-hander Joe Ortiz, who gave the Mariners some life by allowing a Kyle Seager single and then a walk to Kendrys Morales.
Michael Morse then appeared to draw a four-pitch walk, but plate umpire Eric Cooper called the pitch up in the zone a strike. Morse had already flipped his bat and was headed to first base when called back to the plate.
He then grounded into a fielder’s choice and the rally was done.
The Mariners had another chance to get back in it in the seventh inning, when Taner Scheppers replaced Ortiz and gave up a walk to Montero, only his second in 44 plate appearances this season, and a single to Dustin Ackley.
But Ryan came up next and was overpowered by three straight fastballs that retired the side.
Maurer kept on notching quick outs to give his team a shot at the comeback. He retired 10 in a row after the Pierzynski homer and got the first two batters out in the seventh.
But the second of those outs was a deep fly ball to left that took Jason Bay to the edge of the fence for the catch. The next batter, Murphy, didn’t leave any room to catch his drive to right-center, the ball clearing the fence on a line.
The Mariners had one more chance in the eighth when Gutierrez and Seager reached on a single and a walk with none out. But Morales grounded into a double play — the Mariners lead the league in that category — and Morse grounded out soon after.