Cleveland snaps Mariners’ three-game winning streak as James Paxton leaves after 42/3 innings with discomfort on a finger in his left (throwing) hand.

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It was shaping up to be a rough night for James Paxton and the Mariners even before manager Lloyd McClendon emerged from the dugout in the fifth inning, tailed closely by a trainer.

Paxton had already allowed four Indians runs on eight hits. Then the left-handed starting pitcher felt a twinge in the middle finger of his throwing hand during a 1-0 pitch to Cleveland’s Brandon Moss.

Paxton, who entered Thursday night with three consecutive wins, disappeared within the home dugout before the game was even halfway gone. And Seattle, which went 6-3 during its recent trip to lift its record back to .500 at 23-23, opened its seasonlong homestand with a deflating 5-3 loss to the Indians in front of a crowd of 19,449 on Thursday night at Safeco Field.


Cleveland @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

“I just felt a little twinge and it got kind of sore,” Paxton said in the home clubhouse afterward. “They didn’t want to chance it. … The next pitch felt sore. I couldn’t finish off the pitch. It went high. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with it, but hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow.”

The Indians got to him early on Thursday. Moss hit a solo home run to straightaway center to open the scoring in the second inning, and the Indians rattled off five hits in the first two frames alone.

Mike Zunino, the ninth hitter in Seattle’s lineup, evened the score at one with a homer of his own in the third, the first of his team-high two hits.

“As the season progresses, we’re going to have to have some production from the bottom of our order,” McClendon said. “It was nice to see tonight.”

Paxton (3-3, 3.70 ERA) had made it at least six innings in each of his past three starts, limiting opponents to just two earned runs between them. His ERA for the month of May was 1.33.

But he was touched up for three more runs in the fourth, and Cleveland boasted a 4-1 lead by the time Seattle’s starter was pulled from the game for what McClendon stressed were precautionary reasons.

“I felt like the ball was coming out pretty good,” Paxton said. “I made some mistakes, and they found some holes. … I made pretty good pitches and they just put it where we weren’t.”

Like Paxton, Cleveland starter Corey Kluber (3-5, 3.52), the reigning American League Cy Young award winner, wasn’t as sharp as he had been in recent starts. But that’s only because Kluber had set a prohibitively high bar. Entering Thursday, the righty had notched 37 strikeouts against a single walk while holding opponents to a .176 average in his last 25 innings.

Kluber struck out 13 more in his Safeco debut, getting Kyle Seager three times.

“He’s tough,” Seattle left fielder Dustin Ackley said. “He’s hard to square up, for sure, with all the pitches he has. He’s got the cutter, a slider, a curveball, a change. Right when you think you have him, he drops another pitch on you.”

Ackley yanked a two-run home run over the left-field wall to pull the Mariners to 5-3 in the sixth, his fourth homer of the season.

But Kluber struck out the side in the seventh, getting Zunino and Austin Jackson swinging before fanning Nelson Cruz with a high fastball with a runner aboard to extinguish Seattle’s last half chance.

A night that began with such promise ended with the Mariners back below .500 and anxiously awaiting the results of Paxton’s re-evaluation Friday.

Can’t stand success
The Mariners are struggling to get above the .500 mark this season.
Record Date Result
1-0 April 7 Lost to Angels 2-0
1-1 April 8 Lost to Angels 5-3
3-3 April 13 Lost to Dodgers 6-5
23-23 May 28 Lost to Indians 5-3
Can’t stand successThe Mariners are struggling to get above the .500 mark this season.Record
April 7
Lost to Angels 2-01-1
April 8
Lost to Angels 5-33-3
April 13
Lost to Dodgers 6-523-23
May 28
Lost to Indians 5-3