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James Paxton’s strong start can’t get Mariners over June swoon

Seattle’s Kyle Seager is greeted in the dugout after his two-run home run off Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander during the sixth inning Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
Seattle’s Kyle Seager is greeted in the dugout after his two-run home run off Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander during the sixth inning Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)
By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

DETROIT – It’s just not working these days for the Seattle Mariners.

James Paxton provided them with a much-needed deep start Tuesday night but couldn’t hold a two-run lead in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

More than that, the winning run scored on Mike Aviles’ bases-loaded dribbler up the first-base line that stubbornly stayed fair with the bases loaded.

“That’s baseball right there,” Paxton said. “That stuff is going to happen. Hopefully, we get some of those breaks going our way pretty soon.”

James McCann followed with a sacrifice fly for the game’s final run.

And the June swoon stands at 6-14.

“We do think we have a really good team here,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “We do believe that, and that’s why you’re able to not stress. If there’s a little bit of waver in that, there would be a bit a trying time.”

It sure seems “tying” enough.

The Mariners had a 2-0 lead after Seager’s homer in the sixth inning against Justin Verlander, but the Tigers answered with single runs in the sixth and seventh before their two-run eighth.

Victor Martinez started the winning rally with a one-out single, and he lumbered to third on Nick Castellanos’ double into the right-center gap. That was the Tigers’ only extra-base hit of the game.

After Andrew Romine replaced Martinez at third as a pinch-runner, the Mariners loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Justin Upton, who hit two homers Monday, including a 13th-inning walk-off winner.

Paxton (1-3) jumped ahead of Aviles 1-2, but Aviles fouled off two more pitches before squirting his winning single up the first-base line. After McCann’s sacrifice fly, Edwin Diaz got the innings final out.

“If there’s a silver lining in this one,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said, “it is (Paxton). I said that to him on the mound: ‘James Paxton is back.’ And we need him. We keep pitching like that, I’ll take our chances every night.”

The Mariners are 2-6 on a 10-game trip that includes two more games at Comerica Park. Paxton’s final line showed four runs and 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Verlander settled for a no-decision after limiting the Mariners to two runs and six hits in seven innings.

“We were all talking about it,” Seager said. “There weren’t too many real good pitches to hit in the zone. He obviously got the good stuff. He’s got the full assortment of pitches. He was really hitting his spots tonight.”

Bruce Rondon (1-0) got the victory after pitching a scoreless eighth. Francisco Rodriguez stranded two runners in the ninth for his 20th save in 22 opportunities.

The game was scoreless into the sixth before Seager turned around a 96-mph fastball from Verlander on a full count for a two-run homer. The two-out drive followed Robinson Cano’s one-out single, and measured 384 feet.

It was Seager’s 15th homer of the season.

Paxton started the Detroit sixth by putting the tying runs on base. Cameron Maybin singled, and Miguel Cabrera walked.

Seager’s diving stop turned Martinez’s grounder into a double play, but Paxton couldn’t completely escape. Castellanos grounded a two-out RBI single through the left side. It was 2-1.

The Tigers pulled even in the seventh.

Jose Iglesias pushed a two-out single past first and went to second on a wild pitch. Ian Kinsler tied the game with a single to right and took second on the throw to the plate. Paxton held the tie when Maybin grounded out.

It was a temporary reprieve.

Play of the game

Third baseman Kyle Seager, after hitting a two-run homer in the top of the sixth, turned in a web gem in the bottom of the inning.

The Tigers had runners on first and second when Victor Martinez pulled a sharp grounder up the third-base line. Seager made a diving stop, got to his feet and started a third-second-first (5-4-3) double play.

Plus

Ketel Marte went 3 for 4 one night after going 4 for 6. His average is up to .284. … Robinson Cano nudged his average up to .301 by going 2 for 2 with two walks. … The Mariners aided Paxton with three double plays.

Minus

The Mariners were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. … Leonys Martin and Seth Smith were a combined 0 for 8 at the top of the lineup. … Adam Lind was also hitless in four at-bats.

Stat pack

Robinson Cano had a single and a double. He leads the Mariners with 17 doubles and with 26 multihit games.

Quotable

Manager Scott Servais admitted hie started Nelson Cruz in right field in an effort to snap him out of a recent slump.

“We’ve all seen what he can do,” Servais said. “He’s just had a rough stretch. He knows it. He wears it harder than anybody.

“But sometimes … you just play the game instead of getting so locked in on the at-bat. Producing or not producing. Just play the game. Just go out and play.”

It didn’t work. Cruz was hitless in four at-bats and left four runners on base.

Short hops

First baseman Dae-Ho Lee turned 34 on Tuesday. He marked the occasion with a pinch single in the ninth. … James Paxton’s 7 2/3 innings marked his longest start since he went eight innings on May 17, 2015, in a 5-0 victory over Boston at Safeco Field. It matched the longest road start of his career. He also went 7 2/3 innings on Sept. 2, 2014, in a 6-5 victory at Oakland.

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