SAN FRANCISCO – An eight-game trip that offered breakthrough opportunities for the Seattle Mariners at all three venues ended Tuesday with another bite of disappointment in a 6-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Angel Pagan’s two-out bloop single in the fifth inning against Mariners starter J.A. Happ loomed as the telling blow until the Giants struck for three two-out runs in the eighth against Tom Wilhelmsen.
San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum (7-3) and a relay of four relievers protected the margin over the closing innings as the Giants, the reigning World Series champions, ended a nine-game home losing streak.
This was a frustrating trip for the Mariners. It began with two victories at Cleveland before the chance for a sweep slipped away when they managed just two hits in a 6-0 loss in the series finale.
A key weekend series at first-place Houston opened in disaster – Felix Hernandez failed to survive an eight-run first inning, but the Mariners bounced back Saturday for an 8-1 victory.
Sunday offered the chance to win the series and erase Hernandez’s misstep. Instead, the Mariners absorbed a 13-0 thrashing.
On to San Francisco, where they opened the two-and-two series Monday with a 5-1 victory behind Taijuan Walker that manager Lloyd McClendon termed “about as clean a game as we’ve played in some time.”
That meant Tuesday offered the chance for a 5-3 trip. Instead, the Mariners settled for 4-4 as they return home for two more games against the Giants. Traction remains elusive.
Happ (3-3) turned in another solid effort: three runs in six innings. He gave up a two-run homer in the second to Matt Duffy and that costly two-out bloop by Pagan in the fifth.
“A lot of times,” Happ said, “you’re frustrated because you make a mistake. Duffy hit the pitch I wanted to throw. I give him credit. I don’t know how he hit that ball. He put a (heck) of a swing on it.
“Then I’m close to getting out of (the fifth inning) with two outs, and Pagan drops one in there into no-man’s land. And that was enough today, unfortunately.”
Fernando Rodney followed with an encouraging three up-and-down seventh on three grounders. The deficit was still just 3-2 before Wilhelmsen melted down after retiring the first two hitters.
Wilhelmsen issued two walks before the Giants got another bloop, this one by Duffy into short right field. That made it 4-2. Casey McGehee followed with a two-run, pinch-hit double into the right-field corner.
“(Wilhelmsen) couldn’t get the ball over the plate,” McClendon said.
The Mariners could point to some missed chances early. They left a runner at third in the second inning and stranded runners at first and second in the third.
Lincecum had a one-hit shutout until shortstop Brad Miller opened the fifth with a 399-foot drive to left for a homer. Miller chased Lincecum in the sixth after his RBI single cut the Giants lead to 3-2.
“The reality is we’re not playing as well as we should be playing,” McClendon said. “We’ve had opportunities, and I think today was a perfect example. We just couldn’t get the one hit to put us over the hump.”
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