Nelson Cruz goes deep twice, but James Paxton can’t hold the lead for Seattle

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LOS ANGELES — At first glance, it seems difficult to believe that hitting four home runs in a baseball game isn’t enough to secure a victory.

Perhaps when three of the four are solo homers, it lessens the impact considerably.

But on a night when the Mariners put four balls into the outfield seats, including two by Nelson Cruz, their starting pitching — the perceived strength of the team — failed to make them stand up in a 6-5 defeat against the Dodgers in 10 innings Monday night.


Seattle @ L.A. Dodgers,7:10 p.m., ROOT

It was the third consecutive game the Mariners had played extra innings. And after winning the previous two in Oakland, this game wasn’t the charm.

Andre Ethier led off the bottom of the 10th inning for the Dodgers with a double off the wall in right field off Dominic Leone. He later scored on Alex Guerrero’s single to right-center off lefty Tyler Olson.

It left the four home runs the Mariners belted in the first five innings just a distant memory.

“It’s tough,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We wasted a lot good performances tonight.”

It isn’t completely uncommon for Seattle to lose a game like this. In fact, in their team history, which dates back to 1977, the Mariners have lost 30 games in which they hit four homers — the last in August 2013. Heck, it happened three times in 2009.

It certainly wasn’t expected that the Mariners would hit four homers. The venerable park that is Dodger Stadium isn’t known to be hitter-friendly, particularly at night. But in the first five innings, the Mariners made it look like a spring training yard in Arizona.

It started with Cruz, who came into the game having homered in his previous two games, including his final at-bat in the victory Sunday over the Oakland A’s.

In his first at-bat against Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy, with Robinson Cano on first, Cruz pushed a fly ball inside the foul pole for a two-run homer to make it 2-0.

But he wasn’t finished.

With one out in the fourth inning, Cruz muscled a fly ball over the wall in right field for a solo homer — his third in three at-bats. It was the 14th multihomer game of his career.

The power surge continued moments later when Kyle Seager matched Cruz with a solo homer of his own — a towering blast past right field to make it 4-0.

“Today was a good sign,” Cruz said. “When I go the other way, when I do that, I’m usually seeing the ball pretty good.”

But even with an audacious display of early power, the Mariners and starter James Paxton couldn’t hold the lead.

The big lefty lost his command in the fourth inning. As his pitches started to stay up in the zone, Paxton gave up a leadoff single to Yasiel Puig and later a double to Howie Kendrick. Guerrero drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to cut it to 4-1. A misread on the cutoff throw by Brad Miller allowed Scott Van Slyke to advance to second to put both runners in scoring position. It proved costly when rookie Joc Pederson sliced a single to right field to score two runs to make it 4-3.

“It cost us a run,” McClendon said. “It didn’t cost us the game.”

Paxton took the blame for the hit.

“That was a big mistake,” Paxton said. “I was trying to go low and away and I left it up and away and he stuck the bat out there and got that hit. That one hurt.”

Dustin Ackley’s solo homer in the fifth — the Mariners fourth of the game — pushed the lead to 5-3. But again, Paxton couldn’t keep it there.

Puig crushed a solo homer to left with two outs in the fifth inning.

“I knew he swings at the first pitch, but I just left a changeup up and over the plate,” Paxton said.

Adrian Gonzalez doubled to deep right center and Kendrick drove him in with a sharp single to right field to tie the game at 5-5.

With a depleted bullpen that had three relievers — Fernando Rodney, Yoervis Medina and Danny Farquhar — unavailable unless it was an emergency, Paxton had to fight his way through the troubles. He made it to the seventh inning, striking out Jimmy Rollins before being lifted for right-hander Carson Smith.

Paxton finished with a line of 61/3 innings pitched, five runs, six hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

But the Mariners’ beat-up bullpen kept the score at 5-5 until the 10th. McClendon had to use Smith and Charlie Furbush a third of an inning to get out of the seventh without giving up the lead. Leone, who was called up earlier in the day, had to handle the extended work, pitching 21/3 innings, allowing just that one hit to Ethier.

“It was a sinker away and he was sitting first-pitch fastball and put a good swing on it,” Leone said.

Cruz control

Nelson Cruz hit two home runs Monday night. His stats in Seattle’s three straight extra-inning games.
Day Hits HR RBI
Monday 2 2 3
Sunday 1 1 1
Saturday 3 1 3