SAN FRANCISCO — An eight-game trip that offered breakthrough opportunities for the Seattle Mariners at all three venues ended Tuesday with another bite of disappointment in a 6-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Angel Pagan’s two-out bloop single in the fifth inning against Mariners starter J.A. Happ loomed as the telling blow until the Giants struck for three two-out runs in the eighth against Tom Wilhelmsen.
San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum (7-3) and a relay of four relievers protected the margin over the closing innings as the Giants, the reigning World Series champions, ended a nine-game home losing streak..
This was a frustrating trip for the Mariners.
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It began with two victories at Cleveland before the chance for a sweep slipped away when they managed just two hits in a 6-0 loss in the series finale.
A key weekend series at first-place Houston opened in disaster — Felix Hernandez failed to survive an eight-run first inning, but the Mariners bounced back Saturday behind rookie Mike Montgomery for an 8-1 victory.
Sunday offered the chance to win the series and erase Hernandez’s misstep. Instead, the Mariners absorbed a 13-0 thrashing.
On to San Francisco, where they opened the two-and-two series Monday with a 5-1 victory behind Taijuan Walker that manager Lloyd McClendon termed “about as clean a game as we’ve played in some time.”
That meant Tuesday offered the chance for a 5-3 trip. Instead, the Mariners settled for 4-4 as they return home for two more games against the Giants. Traction remains elusive.
“I think we’ve got to take the positives,” said shortstop Brad Miller, who drove in both Mariners runs. “We beat two pretty good pitchers in Cleveland (Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer). It’s hard to sweep a team/
“Houston was three kind of extreme games. They’re a team, when they get going, they’re tough at home. Here, you’ve got the defending champs, and we’re facing some good pitchers again.
“I think, personally, we’ve got to take the positives and take it back to Seattle and have a good homestand.”
Happ (3-3) turned in another solid effort: (VIDEO LINK) three runs in six innings. He gave up a two-run homer in the second to Matt Duffy and that costly two-out bloop by Pagan in the fifth.
“A lot of times,” Happ said, “you’re frustrated because you make a mistake. Duffy hit the pitch I wanted to throw. I give him credit. I don’t know how he hit that ball. He put a (heck) of a swing on it.
“The I’m close to getting out of (the fifth inning) with two outs, and Pagan drops one in there into no-man’s land. And that was enough today, unfortunately.”
Fernando Rodney followed with an encouraging three up-and-down seventh on three grounders. The deficit was still just 3-2 before Wilhelmsen melted down after retiring the first two hitters.
Wilhelmsen issued two walks before the Giants got another bloop, this one by Duffy into short right field. That made it 4-2. Casey McGehee followed with a two-run pinch double (VIDEO LINK) into the right-field corner.
That wasn’t a bloop. It was a dagger.
“(Wilhelmsen) couldn’t get the ball over the plate,” McClendon said. “Then Duffy hits a slow curveball with two strikes. It was just command. His stuff was there.”
The Mariners could point to some missed chances early against Lincecum. They left a runner at third in the second inning and stranded runners at first and second in the third.
Buster Posey opened the San Francisco second with a single. Brandon Crawford struck out, but Duffy hoisted a fly to left (VIDEO LINK) with enough carry to clear the wall for a two-run homer.
“I don’t know how many people hit that ball where it was,” Happ said. “You’re kind of just shaking your head at it.”
Lincecum had a one-hit shutout until Miller opened the fifth with a 399-foot drive to left for a homer. (VIDEO LINK) Mike Zunino followed with a single, but Happ’s attempted sacrifice turned into a double play.
Happ gave the run right back.
Andrew Susac led off the Giants’ fifth with a double to deep center. Happ retired the next two batters before appearing to pitch around Joe Panik with a four-pitch walk.
Pagan then atoned for double-play grounders in his first two at-bats by flicking an RBI single into right that fell in front of a charging Nelson Cruz for a 3-1 lead.
The Mariners answered in the sixth and knocked out Lincecum but settled for just one run. Kyle Seager sliced a two-out single, and Jones followed with a walk.
Miller served an RBI single into center, which also moved Jones to third. The Giants then pulled Lincecum for George Kontos, who stranded two runners by retiring Zunino on a fly to right.
The Mariners didn’t get a runner over the final three innings. What could have been a good trip downshifted into a not-bad one.
“The reality is we’re not playing as well as we should be playing,” McClendon said. “We’ve had opportunities, and I think today was a perfect example. We just couldn’t get the one hit to put us over the hump.”