Potential rally in ninth ends with double play

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The chance to change the pending outcome was aligned for success.

Down a run heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mariners had the top of their order coming to bat against Cleveland closer Cody Allen.

When Austin Jackson led off with an infield single, it set up the Mariners to have Seth Smith, who hit a two-run homer Friday, Robinson Cano, who hit a two-run homer earlier in the game and Nelson Cruz, who leads the American League in home runs with 18, to have a chance to at least tie the game, if not win it with one swing.

Sunday

Cleveland @ Mariners, 1:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

And as with so many chances earlier in the game, it didn’t happen and the Mariners lost 4-3 Saturday.

Smith hit a rocket line drive to the gap in right-center that was tracked down for an out. Cruz stood in the on-deck circle and watched Cano’s hard ground ball up the middle end up right in the glove of shortstop Jose Ramirez, who stepped on second and fired to first for the easy double play.

Game over.

“Just didn’t happen,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “In the ninth inning, we hit the ball extremely hard and it didn’t happen. That’s the way it goes.”

Instead of late-inning heroics, it was another frustrating defeat filled with missed opportunities in a season already full of them. Seattle had a chance to get above .500, but instead fell to 24-25.

“I felt we had opportunities tonight to do it,” McClendon said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”

Roenis Elias’ run of solid starts couldn’t last forever. At some point, there would be a game where his command wasn’t quite there and he wouldn’t be able to work out of jams like he has done so often this season. It came Saturday night.

“I thought he battled,” McClendon said. “He had a stiff back coming into the game and worked his way through it.”

Even on an off night, Elias still managed to keep the Mariners in the game and still give them a viable chance to win. He wouldn’t use his back as an excuse.

“When I was warming up in the bullpen, I had a little pain in my right side, but I didn’t think about it during the game,” Elias said through translator Fernando Alcala.

The young left-hander pitched 51/3  innings — his shortest outing of the season — giving up four runs on five hits with a season-high four walks and three strikeouts.

“Two of the four walks scored,” McClendon said. “That’s usually not a good sign.”

Elias was battling from the beginning, loading the bases with one out in the first on back-to-back singles and a walk. Nick Swisher scored a run on a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 1-0. But Elias ended any further damage by striking out Yan Gomes to end the inning.

In the second, rookie Jerry Sands sat on a 1-2 changeup and belted it for a two-run homer to make it 3-0.

“The changeup wasn’t good today,” Elias said. “Just overall, I didn’t feel good. It just wasn’t a good day overall. That changeup stayed up and instead of going to the outside of the plate it cut to the inside.”

Seattle answered in the bottom of the third. After two days out of the starting lineup because of an inner-ear infection, Cano made his return memorable, yanking a 2-2 pitch from Indians’ starter Shaun Marcum for a two-run homer to right to cut the lead to 3-2.

It was Cano’s second home run of the season and his first homer in 171 plate appearances. His last homer came April 14 against the Dodgers. That tied a career-high drought for Cano, who went through the same stretch in the 2006 season.

After working three scoreless innings, Elias wouldn’t escape the sixth. He issued a leadoff walk to Swisher and later gave up a one-out double to Brandon Moss. McClendon lifted Elias in favor of right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen.

Indians manager Terry Francona countered and brought in left-handed pinch-hitter David Murphy off the bench. The veteran outfielder dumped a single into right field to score Swisher and make it 4-2.

The Mariners cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh. Brad Miller, mired in a 0-for-23 funk, broke the hitless streak with a leadoff double to left off reliever Zach McAllister. Dustin Ackley, who also has been struggling, jumped on the first pitch he saw from McAllister and hit it up the middle for a single to score Miller.