By Bob Dutton The News Tibune
SEATTLE — This is what correction to the mean looks like.
A week ago, on a road trip through three cities, nearly everything fell the Mariners way in winning six of seven.
Now they’ve lost five in a row at Safeco Field after falling 4-3 on Saturday to Texas Rangers. And not much is going right.
Leonys Martin drove in the tie-breaking run in the ninth inning against Fernando Rodney (1-3) by pulling a two-out grounder that just squirted past a diving Kyle Seager at third base.
Luis Sardinas scored from second base.
Rangers closer Joakim Soria closed out the victory for Neal Cotts (2-3) by setting down the Mariners in the ninth for his 15th save.
And just like that, the Mariners, 34-34, are back at .500 and needing a victory Sunday afternoon to avoid a second straight three-game sweep on this homestand.
“We’ve lost some tough games here at home,” shortstop Willie Bloomquist said. “We’re playing hard. We’re just not coming up with that big hit when we need it or big pitch when we need it.
“That’s the difference between winning and losing … We’re going to keep battling. We don’t want this stretch to continue. We need to put an end to it.”
Sardinas started the winning rally by slicing a one-out single to left. He went to second on Rougned Odor’s grounder to the left side of the mound before Martin shot a ground single past third.
The Mariners lost despite five magical shutout innings from Erasmo Ramirez, who scrambled from one jam to the next. They also erased a 3-1 deficit after Danny Farquhar gave up three runs in the sixth.
The game ended with Robinson Cano on deck.
“We’re in a funk,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and we’ve got to find a way to come out of it. We had a lot of good things happen tonight. The one bad thing is we didn’t get the victory. That was a little tough.”
Texas starter Joe Saunders gave up eight hits in six innings but limited his former club to two runs before Shawn Tolleson ran into one-out trouble in the seventh.
Singles by Bloomquist and James Jones put runners at first and second before Cole Gillespie hit what should have been his third double-play grounder of the night.
But Odor made a poor throw to second … and everybody was safe. That loaded the bases, with one out, for Cano, and the Rangers summoned Cotts.
Cano flicked an RBI single into right that tied the game. The ball found grass just in front of a diving Alex Rios. Cotts held the tie by retiring Dustin Ackley on a pop and striking out Logan Morrison.
That was it until the ninth.
Neither team scored until the Mariners broke through in the fifth after singles by John Buck and Kyle Seager put runners at first and third with no outs. Stefen Romero’s fly to left was deep enough to score Buck.
Seager moved to second on the throw home but tried for third on Willie Bloomquist’s grounder to short — and was out. The Mariners settled for one run.
Ramirez navigated through five rocky, but scoreless innings, before Farquhar inherited a 1-0 lead to start the sixth. Ramirez allowed three hits and four walks.
“Our idea was to get him out of there on a good note,” McClendon said, “and let him build off that. We had the match-ups that we wanted. It just didn’t work out.”
Whatever luck that Ramirez possessed didn’t pass to Farquhar, who quickly surrendered the lead. Shin-Soo Choo singled through the right side and came around on Adrian Beltre’s double into the left-field corner.
Choo seemed likely to stop at third until the ball got past Gillespie, but the scoring credited Beltre with an RBI. Either way, the game was tied.
Farquhar struck out the next two hitters before hanging a 1-2 curve to Robinson Chirinos, who pulled a 378-foot drive to left for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead.
“For me, it’s just about executing pitches,” Farquhar said. “I’ve said that 100 times. I executed on the three guys I punched out (strikeouts). I didn’t execute on the three guys who got hits off me.
“It’s a simple game. If you what you’re supposed to do, it works out. I didn’t do my part.”
The Mariners’ relief corps had permitted just eight earned runs in 71 2/3 innings over the previous 27 games before Farquhar surrendered three in the sixth.
“Our bullpen is our foundation,” McClendon said. “We’ve done everything we can to try to take care of them, and we’ll continue to do that. More than not, they’re going to be very successful.
“They weren’t very successful tonight. Just a tough day.”