SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners have scored two runs or less in 14 of their 35 games, and manager Eric Wedge seemed ready to strangle someone’s bat after a 5-2, 10-inning loss Sunday to the Chicago White Sox.
The Mariners managed nine hits, but none in the final three innings.
“We’re not going to go all year scoring two and three runs a game. That sure as hell is not going to happen,” Wedge said. “We’ve got to get better, to a man, of squaring up the baseball and doing a better job.”
Much of the credit Sunday went to White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, who stifled the Mariners with a fastball/cutter/changeup combination that limited them to a two-run fifth inning and nothing more.
But they had numerous chances. The Mariners had baserunners in five of the eight innings against Buehrle, including the leadoff man four times.
They scored only on Brendan Ryan’s RBI single and Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly in the fifth to tie the score 2-2, a scoring spree that came one inning after the Mariners handed the White Sox a run and also robbed themselves of one.
The fourth was a haphazard inning for the Mariners.
In the top of the inning, the White Sox had runners on first and second with one out when Ramon Castro hit an RBI single to left field. Milton Bradley’s throw home bounced away from Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo, who sprinted away from the plate to retrieve the ball. But so did pitcher Erik Bedard, who was backing up the play, and Alex Rios scored a gift run.
“They both went after the ball,” Wedge said. “Somebody’s got to stay home there.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Ichiro led off with a single and the Mariners appeared to be on their way to a first-and-third, one-out situation when Bradley grounded a single toward center field.
However, as Ichiro approached second base, the ball glanced off his left foot. He was called out and, after Olivo followed with a single that would have scored Ichiro, Justin Smoak flied out to end a missed opportunity.
There were more opportunities lost.
Bradley started the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit but Buehrle retired Olivo, Smoak and Jack Cust. In the seventh, Ryan hit a hard smash down the third-base line that appeared to be a double, but the ball struck umpire Mark Wegner and Ryan had to hold at first with a single. He never left the bag.
The Mariners didn’t get another hit off Buehrle or White Sox closer Sergio Santos, who walked one in two innings.
“We had our opportunities and we’ve got to find a way to scrape more across,” Wedge said. “We’ve just got to continue to grind and put up better at-bats, to find a way to score runs. We were in a position to win that ballgame.”
Bedard and the bullpen gave the Mariners a chance.
The White Sox worked the count on Bedard and extended at-bats with numerous foul balls and he lasted only five innings, needing 100 pitches to get that far.
David Pauley pitched two scoreless innings of relief, Jamey Wright worked a scoreless eighth and closer Brandon League, 9 for 9 in save opportunities, a perfect ninth.
Wedge sent League out for the 10th and the White Sox got him with the winning rally.
Brent Morel led off with a single and, after Juan Pierre’s sacrifice bunt, Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn each hit RBI doubles. Wedge brought in left-hander Aaron Laffey, who allowed two more hits, including Rios’ RBI single, before getting out of the inning.
“(League’s) pitch count was such that we could send him back out there,” Wedge said “We still felt good about sending him out there. It just didn’t work out.”
The loss ended the Mariners’ streak of three straight series victories, and this one stung even more because the Mariners had won the opener Friday on Ryan’s game-winning hit in the ninth inning.
“It’s frustrating because that was a very winnable series,” Ryan said. “We just can’t let games slip away.”