Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen allowed two home runs in the ninth, including a two-run shot to Chris Carter that tied the score at 6-6.

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It was all right there for the Mariners — a sweep of the last-place Brewers, a season-best 11 games over .500, a tie for the second wild-card spot with the Orioles.

And then, in what felt like either an incredibly abrupt or excruciatingly long ninth inning, it all disappeared.

The Mariners blew a three-run lead in the ninth against the Brewers, losing 7-6 Sunday in one of the most painful defeats of the season.


N.Y. Yankees @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

The Orioles, the team ahead of the Mariners for the second wild-card spot, lost Sunday, meaning had the Mariners won, they would have been tied with Baltimore (67-56). Instead, the Mariners (66-57) are a game back.

“What could go wrong went wrong,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’re disappointed. No doubt. None of us are happy about that one. How could you be?”

Before the game, Servais had decided he wouldn’t use 22-year-old rookie closer Edwin Diaz. Diaz threw 34 pitches, the second-most pitches he’s thrown in a game this season, in a stressful and rocky ninth inning Friday. Servais has talked all season about the importance of easing Diaz into his first season.

So with Diaz unavailable, Servais went with Tom Wilhelmsen, who had a 1.47 ERA since joining the Mariners in late June and who hadn’t allowed a run in August.

Wilhelmsen surrendered a solo home run to the first batter he faced, Keon Broxton, cutting the Mariners’ lead to 6-4.

He struck out the next batter but then gave up a double. That brought up Brewers first baseman Chris Carter, who is hitting just .222 this season, but has 28 home runs.

Wilhelmsen fell behind Carter 2-0, at which point catcher Chris Iannetta visited the mound.

“I went out there and said, ‘Look, we’re going to give him two-strike pitches the entire time,’?” Iannetta recalled. “?‘Let him get himself out.’?”

Said Wilhelmsen: “There’s still some fight in ya. I don’t just want to give in and say, ‘Here you go, sir, take first base.’ I’ve faced him many times; I’ve gotten him out many times.”

Wilhelmsen threw ball three before rallying for two strikes. And then he tried to go low and away to Carter — a two-strike pitch, so to speak — and Carter muscled a game-tying two-run home run past right-center field.

“That one just didn’t stay out enough,” Wilhelmsen said. “He went out and got it.”

The ball carried just over the wall and just over the leaping, fully stretched arm of right fielder Shawn O’Malley, who nearly made a flying, game-saving catch. The crowd at Safeco anxiously waited to see if O’Malley had indeed come down with the ball as he gingerly got to his feet.

“He threw a pitch that was probably a few inches off the plate away, and (Carter) drove it to the opposite field, which you don’t really see happen at Safeco very often,” Iannetta said. “I don’t think he made any bad pitches. I really don’t.”

Wilhelmsen gave up a single to the next batter, which brought on boos from the crowd. He was blunt about his outing.

“It’s hard to get outs when you fall behind guys consistently, and that’s definitely what was happening today,” Wilhelmsen said. “What can I say? It’s not often anyone can say they’ve won a game, any one person, but in this line of work, sometimes you can say you definitely lost that game.”

Lefty reliever Vidal Nuno replaced Wilhelmsen and allowed a single. He then got a fly ball to left-center field that should have been caught. Instead it fell between left fielder Norichika Aoki and center fielder Leonys Martin.

Aoki veered away from the ball at the last second and watched it drop for a hit. A run scored, the Brewers led 7-6, and more boos could be heard.

“I felt the presence of the center fielder there,” Aoki said through a translator. “He didn’t come for the ball, but I felt him coming for the ball.”

Aoki had another odd play in the fourth inning. Broxton also homered in that inning, but it looked like Aoki had a chance at the wall to rob the home run.

“The ball carried more than I thought, and the sun kind of got in my eyes, too, and I didn’t really get a good read on the ball,” Aoki said.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ketel Marte singled to lead off. But Aoki and Seth Smith both popped out. After Marte advanced to second on a wild pitch, Robinson Cano flew out to center to end the game.