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Poor relief pitching denies Mariners any chance of rallying

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Wade Miley, second from right, is pulled in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox by manager Scott Servais, left. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Wade Miley, second from right, is pulled in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox by manager Scott Servais, left. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Maybe the Seattle Mariners would have had back-to-back games of ninth-inning walk-off magic. The odds against that were slim by baseball standards.

But they never really got a viable chance.

Instead of trying to rally from a two-run deficit against closer David Robertson in the bottom of the ninth, they were down five runs going into their final at-bat and slim hopes transformed into nonexistent in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox.

Reliever Joaquin Benoit gave up a two-run homer to Todd Frazier in the ninth and was charged with another run to turn a 3-1 game into a five-run deficit and put the rally hopes out of reach.

Benoit has been a disappointment of the Mariners this season. Acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres in the offseason, the 39-year-old right-hander was brought in because of his consistent results over his lengthy career.

But shoulder issues in spring training and early in the season, including a disabled-list stint, limited his usage and effectiveness. Now fully healthy, Benoit’s command has been wandering and inconsistent. He has 15 walks in 23 1/3 innings pitched with four homers and a 5.40 ERA.

Facing another All-Star left-handed starting pitcher for the second straight day, Seattle managed just one run against Jose Quintana. But it should have been much more. They had six hits, three walks and a hit batter in six innings against Quintana, but only managed the one run.

Seattle starter Wade Miley gave a decent outing, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

Miley hung 1-0 curveball over the middle of the plate to White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie, who slugged a solo homer over the wall in left field to make it 1-0. It was Lawrie’s 12th homer of the season.

After the homer, Miley settled in, using a few double plays to pitch and a timely strikeout in the fifth inning to pitch around multiple baserunners.

The Mariners managed to tie it up for him in the fourth when Robinson Cano led off the inning with a first-pitch solo homer to right field. It was Cano’s 22nd homer of the season.

But Miley’s run of zeroes ended in the sixth. He fell behind Melky Cabrera to start the inning. He worked the count back to full, but left a curveball up in the zone. Cabrera yanked it into the visiting bullpen for his ninth homer of the season to make it 2-1.

Miley gave up a single to Frazier and issued a one-out walk to Avisail Garcia that ended his outing. Right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen entered the game, trying to keep the deficit to one run. But he couldn’t do it. J.B. Shuck lined a ball up the middle, just past the glove of Wilhelmsen and out of the reach of a diving Shawn O’Malley for an RBI single and a 3-1 lead.

The Mariners squandered multiple scoring opportunities vs. Quintana, who wasn’t particularly sharp.

Immediately after the Cano homer, Nelson Cruz singled (one of his three hits in the game) and Dae-Ho Lee worked a walk. But Quintana got Kyle Seager to fly out and Chris Iannetta to ground out.

In the fifth, Seattle put runners on first and second with one out, but Franklin Gutierrez’s liner to right was directly at Adam Eaton. Quintana then struck out Cano on a nasty curveball to end the threat.

Seattle’s left the bases loaded in the sixth when Daniel Robertson flew out to center on a 3-1 count after Quintana had walked Chris Iannetta and hit Leonys Martin with a pitch.

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