LOS ANGELES – Nelson Cruz went deep again Wednesday night. That makes six homers in five games and at least one in five straight games. And the good news pretty much ends there for the Mariners.
The Los Angeles Dodgers roughed up Taijuan Walker for three runs in the first inning and completed a three-game sweep over the Mariners with a 5-2 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Sure, the script changed for the finale. The Mariners built early leads Monday and Tuesday before allowing the Dodgers to scramble back for a pair of 6-5 walk-off victories.
This time, it was the Dodgers. And no real counterpunch – in part because of a stunning mental lapse by Robinson Cano while the Mariners were mounting a rally in the sixth inning.
So, yes, Cruz’s homer and little else on the plus side.
Walker (0-2) gave up five runs and six hits in four innings before exiting for a pinch-hitter. That makes two rocky starts for Walker after winning a rotation spot with a dominant spring.
It also meant a beleaguered bullpen had to chew up four more innings. The rotation averaged just five innings per game on a 2-4 trip through Oakland and L.A. that included three extra-inning games.
Cruz got his homer by driving a 1-1 slider from Brett Anderson over the center-field wall with two outs in the fourth inning. In doing so, Cruz became the fifth player in franchise history to hit homers in five straight games.
Jay Buhner did it twice (1995 and 1996). Richie Zisk did it in 1981, and Alex Rodriguez did it in 1999. Ken Griffey Jr. had an eight-game run in 1993.
Cruz’s homer cut the Dodgers’ lead to 5-1.
The Mariners drew closer in the sixth after loading the bases with no outs, which knocked Anderson out of the game. In came Paco Rodriguez, who retired Kyle Seager on a run-scoring grounder to first.
Then it got strange.
When Logan Morrison drew a walk, Cano began trotting home – as if the bases had been loaded. He realized his mistake too late and was thrown out before he could scramble back to third.
Mike Zunino’s grounder to third resulted in a force at second that ended the inning.
Anderson (1-0) worked the necessary five innings for the victory before Rodriguez, Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez and J.P. Howell closed out the sweep.
The Mariners, at 3-6, have an open date today to regroup before opening a nine-game homestand Friday with the first of three weekend games against Texas.
Walker appeared in no real difficulty in the first inning with a runner at first and two outs before a walk to Tuesday hero Howie Kendrick set up a big inning.
It was Kendrick’s two-run single Tuesday that provided the Dodgers with a 6-5 walk-off victory. This time, he extended the inning for Andre Ethier, who drove an RBI single to left.
Anything close to a good throw by left fielder Rickie Weeks makes for an interesting play at the plate. As it was, Yasmani Grandal scored easily.
Scott Van Slyke followed with a two-run double over Weeks’ head and, that quickly, the Mariners were in a 3-0 hole.
The M’s had a chance to answer in the second when Zunino sent a two-out drive into the right-center gap with Morrison at first base – but Joc Pederson made a diving catch.
Walker worked himself into more trouble by issuing three walks in the second inning before Adrian Gonzalez drilled a two-out RBI single that ate up Morrison at first base and pushed the lead to 4-0.
The Dodgers added another run in the third after Walker began the inning by nicking Ethier with a pitch. One-out singles by Juan Uribe and Pederson made it 5-0 before Walker stranded runners at first and third.
• For box score, see Scoreboard /B6
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