A four-run lead wasn’t enough Monday night for James Paxton and the Mariners. Heck, four homers of firepower wasn’t enough.
Paxton squandered that support before the Los Angeles Dodgers completed their comeback when Alex Guerrero delivered a walk-off single against Tyler Olson for a 6-5 victory in 10 innings at Dodger Stadium.
“It was a tough game,” said right fielder Nelson Cruz, who hit two homers in helping the Mariners build leads of 4-0 and 5-3. “We played the last three games in extra innings, and we came out on top (in the first two in Oakland).
“That’s baseball. You just try to win the next game.”
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Andre Ethier started the winning rally with a leadoff double into the right-center gap against Dominic Leone, who had worked two scoreless innings after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma.
Leone handled Yasiel Puig’s hopper for the first out and held Ethier at second. Next came an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, who was picked earlier in the day as the National League player of the week.
An unintentional walk to Howie Kendrick loaded the bases with one out.
The Mariners realigned at that point with a double switch: Olson replaced Leone, while Austin Jackson replaced Justin Ruggiano in center field. The charm of National League ball.
Olson struck out Carl Crawford, but Guerrero punched his game-winning single into right center.
“He had great plate coverage on it,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He did a good job of battling. We threw everything and the kitchen sink at him. He did a good job of fighting off that last slider.
“He was just leaning out over the plate (on the last pitch) and was able to put a pretty good swing on it and hit it to right-center.”
In addition to two homers from Cruz, who has four in the last three games, the Mariners got one each from Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley against Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy.
But L.A. rallied against Paxton by scoring three runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth before walking off their victory against Olson.
“He just started to elevate the ball,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and that’s not like him. It really gave them a chance to get back in the ballgame. It’s tough. We wasted a lot of good performances tonight.”
The loss cost the Mariners (3-4) a chance to climb over .500 and grab sole possession of first place in the American League West.
McCarthy gave up four homers but only two other hits in seven innings while striking out 10. He didn’t walk anyone and got a no-decision.
Yimi Garcia got the victory after pitching a scoreless 10th inning.
Paxton ended up with a no-decision when he exited after opening the seventh inning by striking out pinch-hitter Jimmy Rollins. Paxton gave up five runs and six hits while walking two and striking out six.
The Mariners struck early. After Robinson Cano broke an 0-for-13 skid with a two-out single in the first inning, Cruz followed with a slicing drive to right for his third homer in three days.
It was also the 200th homer of Cruz’s career and provided Paxton with two runs more than he received in his first start of the season — a 2-0 loss to the Angels on April 7 at Safeco Field.
It stayed 2-0 until Cruz’s next at-bat, when he homered to the opposite field again clearing the wall in right-center field. No. 4 and No. 201. Three homers in three consecutive at-bats. And it was 3-0.
But not for long.
Two pitches later, Seager crushed a fastball for a no-doubt homer to right field. It was 4-0. Seager’s homer was his second of the year.
The Dodgers didn’t get their first hit against Paxton until Puig led off the fourth with a single to right. Gonzalez erased Puig on a force at second before Howie Kendrick drove a double into the right-center gap.
Kendrick’s drive landed just beyond Ackley, who was playing center for the first time since the end of the 2013 season because McClendon chose to rest Jackson (who entered the game later as a reserve).
A walk to Scott Van Slyke loaded the bases for Guerrero, who delivered a sacrifice fly to deep right that moved the other runners to second and third when shortstop Brad Miller left second base uncovered.
That lapse proved costly because Joc Pederson’s single to left drove in two runs instead of one before Paxton ended the inning. The lead was down to 4-3.
“That was a big mistake,” Paxton said. “I was trying to go low and away, and I left it up and away. He stuck the bat out there and got that hit. That one hurt.”
Ackley got one run back with a two-out homer in the fifth. His third of the season. But Puig countered with a two-out homer in the Dodgers’ fifth. So 5-4.
Paxton then surrendered a loud double to Gonzalez and then the lead when Kendrick pushed an RBI single to right field.