Fernando Rodney blows a save, giving up two runs in the ninth
LOS ANGELES — This time it was a save situation. Yet the result was still the same.
After imploding in his previous outing and blowing a four-run lead against the Oakland A’s on Sunday, the Mariners’ Fernando Rodney was brought in Tuesday to face a more traditional situation for a closer — holding a one-run lead.
And as in the previous outing, Rodney couldn’t do it.
A save being on the line and the intensity that comes with a tight game mattered little, because, once again, his pitches were up in the strike zone and his control was lacking.
The poll has expired. Thank you for your submissions.
Rodney loaded the bases with one out and Howie Kendrick — a thorn in the Mariners’ side from his days with the Angels — looped a broken-bat single into right field. Jimmy Rollins and Carl Crawford raced home, and the Dodgers celebrated a 6-5 victory.
“It’s a tough way to lose a ballgame,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “That’s a good ballclub over there. They grind their at-bats and made it tough tonight.”
Rodney acknowledged his pitches were up in the zone.
“The balls they hit tonight, the pitches were right in the middle,” Rodney said. “A couple of pitches I missed in the strike zone, and you can’t do that. Just trying to win. I’m not perfect, though. I was trying to hit the strike zone.”
For the second consecutive game, Mariners hitters put up an early lead thanks to home runs. But again, the Mariners’ starting pitcher couldn’t make the lead stand.
Hisashi Iwakuma didn’t get out of the sixth inning, and he was credited with five innings, four runs allowed on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Mariners’ home-run barrage the past three games continued into the first inning Tuesday against Dodgers starter David Huff.
With Austin Jackson on first base, Robinson Cano sat on a hanging breaking ball and deposited it into the right-field stands with one short, crisp swing. The two-run shot was his first homer of the season.
Meanwhile, the most dangerous hitter in baseball over the past few games — Nelson Cruz — continued his power surge. Out in front on a 3-2 changeup, Cruz muscled a towering fly ball to left field. The ball continued to carry until it landed on the other side of the wall for his fifth homer in the past four games. Cruz has homered in four consecutive games — the most in his career.
A 3-0 first-inning lead would seem ideal for Iwakuma, but in a sign of things to come, he managed to load the bases in the first inning thanks to a bloop single from Crawford, a sharp single by Kendrick and a walk to Yasmani Grandal.
Iwakuma managed to pitch his way out of the jam with a strikeout of Andre Ethier. But nothing would be easy for Iwakuma. He allowed a run in the third inning on a run-scoring double by Adrian Gonzalez to make it 3-1.
Fortunately for Iwakuma, his teammates tacked on a few additional runs. In the fourth, Willie Bloomquist was hit by a pitch and moved to second on Iwakuma’s sacrifice bunt. Rickie Weeks drove in Bloomquist with a sharp single to left field to make it 4-1.
But again Iwakuma couldn’t keep the lead at three. After getting two quick outs to start the fourth, he walked Joc Pederson, with pitcher Huff waiting on deck. However, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly countered Iwakuma’s strategy by bringing Alex Guerrero off the bench to pinch-hit. Guerrero, who drove in two runs Monday, jumped all over a first-pitch slider that Iwakuma left up in the zone, crushing a two-run homer to left to make it 4-3.
The Mariners again padded their lead with Bloomquist scoring Cruz on bases-loaded fielder’s choice to make it 5-3.
Still, the game just seemed destined to be a one-run affair. Brought out to pitch the sixth, Iwakuma gave up a leadoff homer to Ethier on another poorly executed slider, cutting the lead to 5-4.
“I wanted to go with the momentum and usually I find a good rhythm, a good tempo and attack the strike zone,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “But they put up tough at-bats.”
McClendon lifted Iwakuma after the homer and turned it over to his beat-up and overworked bullpen. They responded. Carson Smith finished out the sixth and Yoervis Medina gave the Mariners two fabulous innings of relief, cleaning up a mess left by Charlie Furbush in the seventh inning.