Seattle Mariners

Another Cishek stumble, another wrenching loss for Mariners

Mariners closer Steve Cishek sits in the dugout after giving up the go-ahead home run to the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts in the ninth inning Monday. He also blew a save Sunday.
Mariners closer Steve Cishek sits in the dugout after giving up the go-ahead home run to the Red Sox’s Mookie Betts in the ninth inning Monday. He also blew a save Sunday. The Associated Press

This wasn’t heartbreak on the scale of what happened Sunday night to the Mariners at Wrigley Field.

But it was bad enough. And the result was the same. Another loss. Also the same, closer Steve Cishek stumbled when it mattered most.

Cishek surrendered a ninth-inning leadoff homer to Mookie Betts on Monday night that lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Betts teed off on a 1-0 sinker that didn’t sink enough and sent it over the left-field wall for his 22nd homer of the season.

On Sunday, Cishek (2-6) squandered a three-run lead in the ninth in Chicago, and the Cubs won 7-6 in 12 innings. This latest slip begs the question:

How much longer can the Mariners keep Cishek as their closer? Particularly when they have an overpowering alternative in rookie right-hander Edwin Diaz.

Boston closer Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save. The winner was Junichi Tazawa (2-1), who stranded two runners in the eighth.

This was a classic pitchers’ duel that funneled to Cishek’s stumble.

Seattle’s James Paxton allowed one run and four hits in eight innings, and Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez gave up one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. Each got a no-decision.

The game was scoreless until the seventh, when Dae-Ho Lee’s double gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Boston pulled even in the eighth on Aaron Hill’s one-out homer.

The Mariners had a chance to answer in the eighth after Nori Aoki punched a one-out pinch single up the middle against Tazawa and went to second on a wild pitch.

Leonys Martin’s sharp grounder to first moved Aoki to third. After an intentional walk to Robinson Cano, who at that point had two of the Mariners’ four hits, Nelson Cruz struck out.

The Mariners slipped back to .500 at 52-52.

Cano collected his second, and the Mariners’ second, hit of the game against Rodriguez with a one-out double to right in the seventh. When Cruz followed with a walk, it marked the first time that either club had more than one runner on base in an inning.

Lee then drove a double into the right-center gap just beyond the reach of center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Cano held up, initially, to ensure the ball wasn’t caught but scored easily.

The Mariners led 1-0 and had runners at second and third with one out, and the Red Sox went to the bullpen for Robbie Ross Jr. for a left-on-left matchup against Kyle Seager.

Ross’ first pitch, a 75-mph curve, nicked Seager on the arm, which loaded the bases for Franklin Gutierrez. But the Mariners settled for one run when Gutierrez and Chris Iannetta struck out.

The missed chance came back to haunt when Boston pulled even on Hill’s homer in the eighth. Hill tomahawked a 94-mph fastball up in the zone for a 382-foot drive to left field.

Neither club had a runner in scoring position until the Boston sixth, when Betts pulled a two-out double into the left-field corner. But Paxton retired Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to short.

Shawn O’Malley put down what appeared to be a perfect one-out bunt in the Mariners’ sixth and, when hit by the throw from catcher Sandy Leon, wound up at third. But plate umpire Mike Estabrook immediately called O’Malley out because of runner’s interference.

Neither club had a runner until Leon’s one-out single through the right side in the Boston third, but Bryce Brentz grounded into a double play. The Mariners got their first runner when Gutierrez opened the third with a walk. Iannetta then took a third strike, and O’Malley lined into a double play.

Rodriguez didn’t permit a hit until Cano’s two-out single in the fourth.