After taking lead, Mariners fall in 11th
Balentien drives in go-ahead run; Morrow tagged with loss
ARLINGTON -- The Mariners gave Jarrod Washburn a three-run lead, hit three home runs, and either led or were tied with the Rangers for all but two outs on Wednesday night.The final two outs. Those never came as right-hander closer Brandon Morrow had his streak of consecutive converted saves this season end at six. He retired one of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the 11th inning, and two of them scored on Hank Blalock's walk-off double into right-center field, handing the Mariners a tough-to-take 6-5 loss before 25,865 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "I thought it was a good pitch, a fastball down," Morrow said of the pitch Blalock rocketed into the gap. "He's a good fastball hitter. He went down and caught it out in front." The hit scored Michael Young from second base and Josh Hamilton from first, sending Seattle (16-18) to its 12th loss in the past 18 games. Four of those losses have been administered by the Rangers, who lead the American League West. A run-scoring double to right field by Wladimir Balentien in the top of the 11th had given the Mariners their fourth lead of the game. The hit scored Adrian Beltre from second base. Beltre reached base on Young's throwing error, from second base. Morrow made his second appearance since coming off the disabled list and was rocky for the second time. He tight-roped his way to a save against the Twins on Sunday, but couldn't pull it off this time. Young led off with a single and stole second. Hamilton walked after getting the benefit of the doubt on a 2-and-2 pitch that the Mariners thought should have been called a strike. After Andruw Jones flied out to center field, Blalock stepped in and ended the game with one swing. "Anytime a guy has a plus, plus fastball, you don't want to chase it up in the zone," Blalock said. "I was focused on making sure he got it down." For the first time in their past seven games, the Mariners scored first. They took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Beltre hit his second home run of the season, a line drive into the right-field seats. The last time Seattle struck first was on May 5 against the Rangers at Safeco Field, when it took a one-run lead in the sixth inning before losing, 7-2, in the 10th. Catcher Kenji Johjima hiked the Mariners' lead to three runs in the fourth inning with his second home run of the season, a shot into the first row of seats in left field that scored Balentien. Going into the middle game of the three-game series, Washburn had surrendered two or fewer runs in five of his previous six starts this season. So a three-run lead looked promising for the Mariners. But the Rangers scored a run in the fourth inning, then two in the fifth on Hamilton's two-run home run off the upper-deck facade in right field. His fourth homer of the season was his second in the past two nights. "I didn't have very good command of anything all night long," Washburn said. "I made at least one mistake with every kind of pitch I threw. I fell behind a lot of guys, walked more than I usually do [four] and they were in bad situations to be walking guys. "But as bad as I was, it all came down to two pitches for me. The sinker was fairly solid for me most of the game, but I left one up to [Elvis] Andrus that he hit the [run-scoring] triple on [in the sixth inning] and the one hanging slider I threw all night ended up in the seats." Adding to the frustration was coughing up a lead. "They are a very good hitting ballclub, but I don't ever want to be giving up leads," Washburn said. "The guys did a good job of battling and getting runs across the board. I seemed to be going out there and giving [the lead] up." The Mariners' offense, which has scored zero or one run 10 times in 34 games this season, included first baseman Russell Branyan's team-leading eighth home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth inning that gave Seattle a 4-3 lead. But Texas retaliated in the bottom of the sixth on Andrus' two-out triple. The Mariners put the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out in the eighth but didn't score, and Sean White pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning. Seattle threatened in the 10th, when Ronny Cedeno reached on a bunt single, stole second on a wild pickoff throw and advanced to third on an infield out. Jose Lopez walked, bringing Ken Griffey Jr. to the plate against left-handed reliever C.J. Wilson. Junior bounced into a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play, capping a 0-for-5 night. "It was one of those days," Griffey said. "I jammed myself." It has been one of those streaks for the middle of the Mariners' lineup. The 3-4 hitters have gone 14-for-57 (.246) with two home runs and seven RBIs in the first seven games of the trek, while the opposing 3-4 hitters are 18-for-50 (.360) with seven home runs and 17 RBIs.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.