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M’s still can’t surpass .500

By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

SEATTLE – Climbing above .500 remains an elusive goal for the Mariners after Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Cleveland again kept them from doing so.

The M’s, now 24-25, haven’t boasted a winning record since winning their season opener behind Felix Hernandez. They lost their next three games.

Now, that quest must wait at least two more days. Into June.

Mariners starter Roenis Elias (2-2) gave up four runs in 51/3 innings, which ended a streak of 16 straight starts of permitting three or fewer runs. He can trace much of the damage to a pair of leadoff walks.

A walk in the second preceded Jerry Sands’ two-run homer, and a walk in the sixth preceded Brandon Moss’ double.

What proved to be the winning run scored later in the inning on David Murphy’s pinch single against Tom Wilhelmsen.

The Mariners had chances.

They trailed 4-2 when Brad Miller opened the seventh inning with a bloop past third that fell for a double against Indians reliever Zach McAllister.

Dustin Ackley followed with an RBI single up the middle. That was the first run scored by the Mariners that didn’t come from a homer since Kyle Seager’s RBI single in the first inning of Tuesday’s victory at Tampa Bay.

All 13 of the Mariners’ runs in the interim scored from a homer, including two on Robinson Cano’s two-run shot in the third inning against Cleveland starter Shaun Marcum.

Cano had a two-out single in the seventh that put runners at first and third. A walk to Nelson Cruz loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change to Nick Hagadon for a left-on-left matchup against Kyle Seager.

Seager struck out on three pitches.

Marcum (2-0) yielded Cano’s homer in the third but nothing more in his 51/3 innings. The Indians closed out Marcum’s victory with a relay of four relievers. Cody Allen got the final four outs for his 11th save.

The Indians mounted a first-inning threat when two soft one-out singles and a walk loaded the bases. Nick Swisher’s sacrifice fly to right made it 1-0, but Elias stopped it there by striking out Yan Gomes.

Elias’ problems deepened in the second. He began the inning by walking Moss after being ahead 0-2 in the count, and then served up a 1-2 changeup cookie to Sands, who rocked it for a 424-foot homer.

The Mariners answered in the third when, after Seth Smith’s two-out single, Cano lined a two-run homer into the right-field seats.

It ended a drought of 171 plate appearances by Cano without a homer, which matched the longest of his career.

Elias responded with a shutdown inning, although he needed to strike out hot-hitting Jason Kipnis with two runners on base.

Seattle ran itself out of a fourth-inning threat when Seager, after a walk, tried to go to third on Logan Morrison’s hit to center but was thrown out by Michael Brantley.

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