SEATTLE--The Fernando Rodney Experience took flight when it normally does, in the ninth inning of games. But this time Rodney, the Seattle 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.
Rodney has performed a late-game highwire act all season, but he entered the game having not allowed a run in his last 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.
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 kept the Rangers in check for five innings.
The message delivered by Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon before the game cut right to the point. He was asked if veteran catcher John Buck could help troubled starter Ramirez. McClendon dismissed the idea.
"The only person that can help Erasmo is Erasmo," McClendon said. "We keep talking about veteran leadership, this and that. Make your pitches. That's all. Execute. That's hard, cold facts. We can cut the (BS). Throw strikes, get 'em out."
Ramirez wasn't flawless; he was far from it. But he exited after five innings with the Mariners holding a 1-0 lead, meaning he was in position to get the victory.
No, 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. The biggest blow came two batters later when Robinson Chirinos hit a two-run homer on a 1-2 pitch that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
That's not to say the Mariners' offense didn't have chances. In fact, they had a handful of good ones. But they weren't able to cash in on enough of them.
In the fifth inning, Buck and Kyle Seager led off with back-to-back singles. Stefen Romero then drove in Buck with a sacrifice fly that tied the game and snapped a 13-inning scoreless drought. But Willie 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.
In the eighth inning, Cano delivered a run-scoring single to make it 3-3, but Dustin Ackley popped out on the first pitch and Logan Morrison struck out swinging to leave the bases full.
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