Back-and-forth game ends with Mariners on short end

Back-and-forth game ends with Mariners on short end

Texas beat Seattle 8-7, as the Mariners dropped the first series of their homestand.

Herald news services

SEATTLE — The same problems that have plagued the Seattle Mariners all season crept up Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.

Four relievers combined to allow five runs, the defense committed three errors, and the Texas Rangers’ explosive offense capitalized on every opportunity, notching a series-ending 8-7 win.

“We just keep fighting,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “That’s a great thing, that your ballclub (shows) that kind of fight, no quit, day game after a night game.”

Texas became the latest team to swipe a series from the plummeting Mariners (24-34), who continue to crash further into the American League West basement. Seattle is 11-32 since its franchise-best 13-2 start. Even after rallying to tie the game multiple times Wednesday — and putting two runners on base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth — the Mariners couldn’t scratch out a win.

After Texas grabbed an early three-run lead, the Mariners put up their first run in the third on a Mallex Smith single that scored rookie Shed Long. Shortstop Tim Beckham, filling in for injured starter J.P. Crawford, launched a two-run homer that just cleared the wall in right in the fourth to tie the game 3-3.

Long doubled two at-bats later, scoring Tom Murphy to give Seattle its first lead. Long, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on May 21, has hit safely in all seven games since his return, including five doubles.

But the lead didn’t last long.

Wade LeBlanc’s third start since returning from an oblique injury was better than his previous two — when he gave up a combined 11 earned runs to the Twins and A’s, and never cleared 70 pitches.

Wednesday, Texas jumped on LeBlanc (2-2) early, tagging him with three runs in the first, but his next four frames were much more crisp. He gave up just two more hits, and at one point retired seven batters in a row. LeBlanc, who threw 85 pitches and struck out five in his five innings, left with a 4-3 lead and was in line for the win until Seattle’s shaky bullpen gave up the lead in the sixth.

Recently acquired reliever Jesse Biddle allowed his first runs in three outings with the Mariners. He opened the sixth with a strikeout, but then recorded both a fielding and a throwing error on a soft come-backer that allowed Nomar Mazara to advance to second. A wild pitch sent Mazara to third, and he scored the tying run on Roughned Odor’s double off the right-field wall.

Seattle committed three errors in the game, raising its MLB-leading count to 63. No other team in the major leagues has reached 50.

Asdrubel Cabrera eventually scored on a shallow pop up to left to give Texas a 5-4 lead. Beckham caught the fly ball, but was going against his momentum when he tried to throw home. Cabrera scored easily. Had left-fielder Domingo Santana gotten a better jump on the play, Cabrera likely wouldn’t have tagged.

Mitch Haniger, who has been streaky through the first two months of the season — his 14 home runs rank near the top of the AL, but his 72 strikeouts, including six in this series, are tied for first — picked a key spot to bust out of this recent slump, and seemed to give the Mariners a decisive lead in the bottom of the sixth.

He launched a two-run homer that collided with the left-field foul pole to give Seattle, which had tied the game again on an RBI triple by Smith an at-bat earlier, a 7-5 lead.

“We felt really good about our shot there,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We had a two-run lead with six outs to go. We should’ve locked that down.”

Haniger’s home run was also No. 100 for the Mariners this season, who trail only Minnesota for the MLB lead. Daniel Vogelbach (15), Haniger, Jay Bruce (13) and Edwin Encarnacion (13) all rank among the top 10 in the AL in homers.

But, Roenis Elias, who has been one of Seattle’s more consistent relievers, served up a pair of runs to Texas in the eighth. Former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo pinch hit with two out, and singled to score Mazara and Odor, again tying the game, this time at 7-7.

“I think that their bullpen has a lot of talent, but they’re having a little bit of trouble putting matchups together,” Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

Texas took the final one-run lead in the ninth, when Mazara and Cabrera hit back-to-back two-out doubles against reliever Anthony Bass, who suffered the loss. Santana got turned around on Mazara’s hit, letting it bounce off the wall.

“It’s a play I think he would agree he should have got,” Servais said of Santana.

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