SEATTLE — If Friday’s collapse was the Mariners’ worst loss of the season — and it probably was — then what happened Saturday was absolutely soul-crushing.
The Mariners had just erased a four-run deficit in the eighth inning by scoring five runs before Albert Pujols launched a three-run homer in the ninth that carried the Los Angeles Angels to a 9-7 victory.
Pujols’ homer was a no-doubter to left field against closer Steve Cishek, who also failed to protect a one-run lead Friday in a 7-6 loss to the Angels in the series opener.
"Tonight, I’m going to wear it," Cishek said. "It’s tough. I’m going to try to get some sleep.
"Tomorrow is a whole new day, a clean slate, and I’m going to do whatever I can to get three outs the next time I’m in the ballgame."
Cishek (2-3) retired the first batter in the ninth but nicked Kole Calhoun with a pitch. Mike Trout followed with a single before Pujols unloaded.
Cam Bedrosian (1-0) got the victory when Joe Smith closed out the Mariners in the ninth inning for his third save. The Angels had lost six in a row and 10 of 12 before Friday’s comeback victory.
"Obviously, I want to hit the ball hard with guys on base," Pujols said. "I got an opportunity there and I just thank God I was able to come through. It went out, but we still had to get three outs.
"It’s a great feeling after we got the three outs."
For the Mariners, it was a case of what could have been.
After take a 2-0 lead on Adam Lind’s home run in the second inning, the Mariners trailed 6-2 when they came to bat in the eighth inning against Los Angeles reliever Mike Morin, who had just replaced starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Leonys Martin led off with a walk, and went to third on Nori Aoki’s single before Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz delivered one-out RBI singles.
The deficit was down to 6-4.
Fernando Salas replaced Morin and struck out Kyle Seager, but Lind followed with a two-run double into the right-field corner. Cruz scored all the way from first when the throw home was off-line.
That capped a four-RBI night for Lind, who entered the game with just five RBIs in 28 games.
After Luis Salazar replaced Lind as a pinch-runner, Steve Clevenger worked the count to 3-2 before pulling an RBI single into right field for the go-ahead run.
Cishek couldn’t hold it — and a pulsating comeback that had a near-sellout crowd of 42,036 at full roar turned into heartbreak.
"I see it a different way," Cruz countered. "We battled and showed a lot. In my mind, you just stick with the positive stuff we did tonight.
"They did a good job. You don’t see that happen every day. But what we did was special, too."
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning before the wheels started coming off. But just when it appeared manager Scott Servais had waited too long to go the bullpen, it suddenly got worse.
A lot worse.
Reliever Joel Peralta gave up home runs on successive pitches to Calhoun and Trout in what turned into a disastrous five-run seventh inning.
It was also Peralta’s second straight rough outing. He gave up two runs Friday when the Mariners let a four-run lead slip away over the final three innings in a 7-6 loss to the Angels in the series opener.
"I’m missing (location)," Peralta said. "They’re jumping (on mistakes) and making me pay for it. I’m just not hitting my spots. I’ve got to be better."
Chacin was making his first start for the Angels since arriving Wednesday from Atlanta in a trade for minor-league pitcher Adam McCreery. Chacin was 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for the Braves.
The Mariners made him look like an ace.
Chacin gave up just two runs and five hits in seven innings before handing a four-run lead to Morin — and everything changed.
Then it changed again.
The loss trimmed the Mariners’ lead atop the American League West Division to one-half game over second-place Texas.
It started well enough.
The Mariners opened the scoring on Lind’s one-out drive to center just beyond Trout’s leaping reach at the wall to the left of dead center. It followed a Seager single and gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
The home run tracked at 402 feet; straight-away center is 401 feet.
It was still 2-0 when Calhoun opened the sixth inning with a single. Iwakuma retired Trout and Pujols, but Daniel Nava pulled an 0-2 pitch into the right-field corner for an RBI double.
The Angels settled for one run that inning when C.J. Cron struck out but pulled even when Johnny Giavotella led off the seventh by pulling the first pitch for a homer to left.
Carlos Perez followed with a double just beyond the reach of Seth Smith in the right-field corner. Perez moved to third on Gregorio Petit’s sacrifice and scored the go-ahead run on Yunel Escobar’s line single into left.
Peralta replaced Iwakuma at that point — and the game got away. Calhoun hit a two-run homer and, on the next pitch, Trout launched a no-doubt drive to left.
The Angels led 6-2.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Albert Pujols was hitless in three at-bats and batting .197 when he came to the plate in the ninth inning with one out and runners at first and second.
The Mariners were hoping for a ground ball and a double play.
Instead, Pujols sent a 407-foot drive to left.
"Their bullpen is tough," he said. "Anytime you can take two games like that, it’s huge, especially against one of the best closers in the game."
PLUS: Adam Lind showed some punch with a two-run homer and a two-run double in four at-bats…Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI single in the eighth inning…on a night when the Mariners gave away 20,000 Kyle Seager bobblehead dolls, he responded with three hits.
MINUS: Reliever Joel Peralta’s ERA spiked to 4.70 after giving up two runs without retiring a batter. It was 2.51 before he gave up two runs Friday in a one-inning appearance…Steve Cishek’s ERA jumped from 0.98 to 3.10 after giving up four runs over two innings in his last two outings.
STAT PACK: The crowd of 42,038 was the third-highest of the season…the Mariners were 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position after going 6-for-47 over their previous seven games.
QUOTABLE: General manager Jerry Dipoto on closer Steve Cishek, who blew saves in back-to-back games: "For six weeks, that guy has carried us."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners