Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6), swings and hits a three-run home run during the first inning of a game against the Mariners on May 24, 2017, in Washington. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (left) watches. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6), swings and hits a three-run home run during the first inning of a game against the Mariners on May 24, 2017, in Washington. Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (left) watches. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

M’s fall in another early hole to Nats, drop 5th straight

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s not just that the Seattle Mariners are losing. They are, and that’s the key point, of course. It happened again Wednesday night when Washington rolled to a 5-1 victory at Nationals Park.

More than losing, though, the Mariners haven’t even been competitive in recent games. Their patchwork rotation lets the game get out of hand early and effectively saps all life from the closing innings.

“It does if you let it,” third baseman Kyle Seager said, “and, unfortunately, we’ve let it.”

It happened again Wednesday when Anthony Rendon’s three-run homer capped Washington’s four-run first inning against rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio.

It wasn’t entirely Gaviglio’s fault. An error earlier in the inning by shortstop Jean Segura meant all four runs were unearned. The effect was the same, though.

Another big early hole.

Washington scored two early runs Tuesday before erupting for eight runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 10-1 victory. Rendon had two homers in that game.

The Chicago White Sox posted blowout victories last weekend at Safeco Field by scoring four runs in the first inning on Saturday, and five runs in the first inning on Sunday.

“We’ve got to pick up our intensity,” manager Scott Servais said. “We’re better than this. We’ve about had enough of it, and we need to dial it up.

“We know we’re banged up. Nobody cares about us. Nobody feels sorry for you in this league. You’ve got to go out and fight, claw and scratch and figure out a way. It’s just not happening right now.”

The Mariners have now lost five in a row and 10 of their last 13 in falling to a season-worst seven games under .500 at 20-27. Only Kansas City’s ongoing troubles are keeping the Mariners from the league’s worst record.

The Mariners actually grabbed their first lead since last Friday when Robinson Cano pushed a one-out RBI single past third base in the first inning against Nationals starter Tanner Roark.

Washington quickly pulled even later in the inning after Segura threw high to first for an error on Trea Turner’s leadoff grounder. Turner stole second and came around on two fly outs.

That run was unearned. So were the three that scored later in the inning on Rendon’s 391-foot homer, which gave Washington a 4-1 lead.

“I left it up,” Gaviglio said. “I made a mistake, and he took care of it.”

The Nationals added another run in the second inning on Turner’s RBI single before Gaviglio (0-1) settled into a nice groove. He pitched through the sixth inning and permitted only the one earned run.

It didn’t matter because the Mariners mustered little against Roark, who breezed through seven innings in improving to 4-2. That points to the Mariners’ other deepening problem: a punchless attack.

Five runs in their last five games.

“We know what we need to do,” Seager said. “Everybody knows what we need to do. You get down early — it’s a long game. We have a good offense. We can score runs.

“Instead of sulking, we need to go out there and just play better and grind out at-bats.”

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