Climbing above .500 remains an elusive goal for the Seattle Mariners after Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Cleveland again kept them from doing so.
The Mariners (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.
“We haven’t put it together,” said Robinson Cano, who had two hits, including a two-run homer, in his return from being limited to a pinch-hit appearance in the previous two games because of an ear infection.
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“We have it together for two or three games, and then we slip back. But I believe we’re a team that can win 10 games in a row. We’ve just got to stay positive.”
Mariners starter Roenis Elias (2-2) gave up four runs in 51/3 innings, which ended a streak of 16 consecutive starts of permitting three or fewer runs. He can trace much of the damage to a pair of leadoff walks.
“It was just a bad day,” he said. “I didn’t have a good change-up. Overall, I just didn’t feel good. Warming up in the bullpen, I had a little bit of a back issue. It just wasn’t a good day.”
A walk by Elias in the second inning 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 bottom of 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 Cano’s home run 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 Sumner High graduate Nick Hagadone for a left-on-left matchup against Seager.
Seager struck out on three pitches.
“I’d have liked to be have been able to get the job done,” he said. “He pitched me pretty tough, and he’s got really good stuff. He beat me there.”
That was a common theme. The Mariners had a runner thrown out at third base that torpedoed a potential big inning, had another one caught stealing and were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
“They pressured us the whole game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, “and we kind of hung on, but we also did some things to hold on.”
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 looking.
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 change-up cookie to Sands, who rocked it for a 424-foot homer.
“It stayed up,” Elias said. “And instead of going to the outside of the plate, it cut to the inside.”
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.
The Mariners ran themselves out of a fourth-inning threat when Seager, after a leadoff walk, tried to go to third on Logan Morrison’s single to right center. Michael Brantley made a perfect throw for the out.
“It takes a really good throw to get me,” Seager said, “and he did it. I thought I got under it, but I guess I didn’t.”
Miller drew a two-out walk, but the Mariners stranded both runners when Ackley swung through a high fastball on a full count.
Elias worked himself into another jam via a leadoff walk in the sixth. This one was to Swisher after being ahead 1-2 in the count. When Moss pulled a one-out double to right, the Mariners went to their bullpen.
Wilhelmsen replaced Elias and gave up a pinch single to Murphy on a bloop to right before ending the inning by getting a double-play grounder.
Murphy’s RBI single proved to be the winning run.