SEATTLE — The Fernando Rodney Experience took flight when it normally does, in the ninth inning of games. But this time Rodney, the Mariners’ closer, entered trying to maintain a tie instead of trying to protect a lead.
And with two outs and a runner on second, Rodney couldn’t hold. Leonys Martin ripped a run-scoring single down the third-base line that handed the Mariners a 4-3 loss, their fifth straight, at Safeco Field on Saturday night.
“We’re in a funk,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and we have to find a way to come out of it.”
Rodney has performed a late-game highwire act all season, but he entered Saturday’s game having not allowed a run in his past 10 appearances, a stretch that spanned nine innings. He let Luis Sardinas reach on a single with one out, and Sardinas moved to second on a ground out by Rougned Odor.
Rodney needed to get Martin and couldn’t do it.
That spoiled a potential comeback that saw the Mariners rally from a 3-1 deficit. Robinson Cano delivered a game-tying single in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, but in a theme that was persistent all game, the Mariners’ offense couldn’t throw a more powerful punch. The Mariners had 11 hits, but left eight men on base.
The Mariners haven’t lost five in a row since their eight-game losing streak in April.
“We’re just not coming up with that hit when we need a hit, that pitch when we need it,” said Willie Bloomquist.
And it came on a night when Erasmo Ramirez, the Mariners’ erratic starting pitcher who carried an earned-run average nearing 6.00, labored but exited in place to get the win.
Ramirez wasn’t flawless; he was far from it. But Ramirez exited after five innings with the Mariners holding a 1-0 lead. Ramirez has now pitched 102/3 scoreless innings in his past two starts, but he has walked 10 batters and allowed 19 base runners in that time.
“Ramirez seems to be turning the corner a little bit,” McClendon said.
The damage came in the sixth inning, when reliever Danny Farquhar entered. Farquhar allowed the first batter he faced to reach on a single, then gave up the lead on a run-scoring double to Adrian Beltre.
Robinson Chirinos made it worse with a two-run homer on a 1-2 pitch that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead. And it somehow seemed like more considering the Mariners haven’t scored more than three runs in five games.
“I didn’t do my part,” Farquhar said.
That’s not to say the Mariners offense didn’t have chances.
In the third inning, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out against former Mariner Joe Saunders. But Cole Gillespie grounded into a double play, his second of the game, to end the threat.
In the fifth inning, John Buck and Kyle Seager led off with back-to-back singles. Stefen Romero drove in Buck with a sacrifice fly to snap a 13-inning scoreless drought. But Bloomquist and James Jones weren’t able to do any further damage.
In the sixth inning, the Mariners cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 when Buck singled with two outs to drive in Cano. Cano managed to contort his body to avoid the tag around the glove of Chirinos, the Rangers catcher.
The play was so close, in fact, that home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez started to signal out before changing it to safe at the last second. But again, the Mariners left two runners stranded.
In the eighth inning, Bloomquist and Jones reached on singles with one out. Gillespie followed with a ground ball to second base that could have been a double play, but Odor had a throwing error. That allowed Gillespie to reach and loaded the bases with one out.
Cano delivered a single with a sharply hit liner that right fielder Alex Rios nearly caught. That drove in one run, but Dustin Ackley popped out on the first pitch and Logan Morrison struck out swinging to leave the bases full.
That was the Mariners last good chance.
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