The lesson coming out of Dodger Stadium over the last two days is the Mariners can build multi-run leads with their improved home-run pop, but their vaunted rotation can’t hold them.
Oh, and All-Star closer Fernando Rodney coughed up another lead. The Los Angeles Dodgers scored two runs in the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Howie Kendrick’s two-run single with the bases loaded lifted the Dodgers to their second consecutive walk-off victory.
It was Rodney’s first blown save in 24 opportunities, but he coughed up a four-run lead Sunday in Oakland in a non-save situation before the Mariners won in extra innings.
The problems started earlier, though.
Hisashi Iwakuma displayed the same jitters Tuesday night as James Paxton did Monday, although he was still positioned for a victory until the Los Angeles Dodgers stormed back in the ninth inning against Rodney.
Justin Turner opened the bottom of the ninth inning with a single through the right side and raced to third on Jimmy Rollins’ single to center. Carl Crawford’s grounder to third trapped Turner in a rundown for one out.
That left runners at first and second with one out. A walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases for Kendrick, who poked his single into right field.
The Mariners (3-5) staked Iwakuma to leads of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3, but he nearly gave it all away before departing after Andre Either’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning pulled the Dodgers (5-3) to within 5-4.
The bullpen nearly took it from there.
Yoervis Medina provided the biggest boost by stranding two inherited runners in the seventh inning and working a scoreless eighth.
Rodney just couldn’t close it out.
On Monday, Paxton couldn’t hold leads of 4-0 and 5-3 before settling for a no-decision in a similar 6-5 walk-off loss in 10 innings.
The Mariners rolled into Dodger Stadium off the momentum of winning two extra-inning games in Oakland and caught a break by not having to face either Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke.
And now, the Mariners need a victory Wednesday night to avoid getting swept.
The Mariners, as they did Monday, jumped to an early lead by muscling up. This time, it was Robinson Cano connecting for his first homer, a two-run shot to right in the first inning.
Nelson Cruz followed with a towering drive to left that had just enough carry to clear the wall for his fifth homer in four days.
It also marks the second time in Cruz’s career that he’s hit home runs in four consecutive games. He also did it from April 1-4, 2011 while playing for Texas.
Iwakuma entered the game with a career-long streak of 22 scoreless innings in National League park — and barely made it to 23.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in their first on singles by Crawford and Kendrick before a walk to Yasmani Grandal. But Iwakuma stranded all three runners by striking out Ethier.
The streak reached 24 innings before the Dodgers broke through in the third after Jimmy Rollins’ leadoff double. Iwakuma struck out Crawford, but Adrian Gonzalez pulled an RBI double into the right-field corner.
Iwakuma stopped it there by striking out the next two hitters, and the Mariners got that run back immediately.
Dodgers starter David Huff hit Willie Bloomquist with a pitch with one out in the fourth. The former South Kitsap star moved to second on an Iwakuma sacrifice and scored on Rickie Weeks’ line-drive single to left.
Iwakuma couldn’t get a shutdown inning even after retiring the first two batters. He walked Joc Pederson before serving up a first-pitch meatball to pinch-hitter Alex Guerrero, who rocked it into the left-field seats.
That quickly, it was 4-3.
Guerrero had a walk-off single Monday in the Dodgers’ victory.
Again, the Mariners answered, this time with a gift run from reliever Juan Nicasio, who walked the bases loaded with one out.
Bloomquist’s grounder to short scored a run and convinced manager Lloyd McClendon to allow Iwakuma to bat. Three pitches, inning over, but the Mariners led 5-3.
Iwakuma made it through the fifth but began the sixth by serving up the homer to Ethier on another very hittable slider. And that was it. In came Carson Smith, who nursed the one-run lead to the seventh.