Take away one frustrating inning for Roenis Elias, and he and the Mariners might have had a very different Tuesday night.
But a three-run second inning torpedoed the start for the rookie left-hander and his teammates couldn’t mount enough of a rally in a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
Elias (3-4) gave up four doubles in the second inning, including three in a row to start the inning that put the Mariners in a 3-0 hole.
“He didn’t really make quality pitches in that inning,” M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said.
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Elias characterized it as baseball.
“They hit the ball well that inning,” Elias said through translator Fernando Alcala. “There were a few pitches that were high, but there’s nothing you can do about it now. This is baseball. Sometimes it’s the pitcher’s day, and sometimes it’s the hitters’ day.”
The three-run deficit proved insurmountable as the M’s offense just couldn’t come up with the big hit. Seattle went 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners on base.
“Quite frankly, we battled back in that ball game, but we were probably a hit from getting back in it,” McClendon said.
Facing Angels ace Jered Weaver didn’t help matters. Using a fastball that never went above 87 mph, a curveball in the mid-60s and a changeup somewhere in the middle, Weaver pitched six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts to improve to 6-3.
“With his command, you just have to see the ball up, whether it’s his fastball or his offspeed stuff,” Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said. “He does a good job of mixing everything up and staying down in the zone.”
Weaver has wins in five of his last six starts.
“This guy is a proven winner,” McClendon said. “He knows what he’s doing out there. He’s pretty crafty, and he kept us off balance. We battled, but Weaver got the best of us.”
Seattle did its best to climb out of the early three-run hole. But every time the Mariners cut into the lead, the Angels would add another run.
The Mariners (25-26) cut into the 3-0 lead immediately in the bottom of the second. Dustin Ackley doubled to right off Weaver and scored on Nick Franklin’s single to right.
The Angels (29-22) pushed it to 4-1 in the top of the fourth. Elias loaded the bases with no outs on a single, a hit batter and a bunt that scooted by him for a hit. He was able to limit the damage, getting Howie Kendrick to hit into a double play. That allowed a run to score, but Elias got Mike Trout to fly out to end the inning with just the one run scored.
Down 4-1, the Mariners answered in the bottom of the fourth. Justin Smoak crushed a Weaver fastball, sending a line drive over the wall in right field for his seventh homer of the season.
“He’s starting to pick it up again,” McClendon said. “His at-bats are starting to look better, particularly from the left side.”
Seattle then loaded the bases and got another run when Weaver and catcher Chris Iannetta got mixed up on signs, resulting in a wild pitch that allowed Ackley to sprint home.
Elias couldn’t keep the deficit to one run. He gave up a double to Collin Cowgill to start the seventh, with Cowgill eventually scoring on Trout’s sacrifice fly against reliever Dominic Leone.
Elias pitched 61
3 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
“He did a good job of bouncing back,” Zunino said. “I know he had the one tough outing. He found his changeup and curveball and showed what he could do against all those righties.”
The Angels pushed it to 6-3 in the eighth inning when C.J. Cron hit a towering home run into the Mariners’ bullpen off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen.
Seattle trimmed it to 6-4 on a two-out RBI single up the middle from Cano off closer Ernesto Frieri. Smoak, who represented the tying run, drew a walk. But Kyle Seager, the winning run, flew out to left-center to end the game.