NEW YORK -- Although panic has not set in, the Mariners are looking for answers after enduring the latest setback of a losing streak that has tested the patience of their manager. "We have dug ourselves a hole, and we realize that," manager John McLaren said. "We need to dig ourselves out." That hole became a little deeper on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, where the Mariners dropped an 8-2 decision to the Yankees in front of 53,542, finishing off a series sweep.
"There is a sense of urgency, but there's no panic," McLaren insisted. "We have to stick to the game plan, keep working hard and keep believing in ourselves. We have to fight our way through this." The latest loss extended the Mariners' losing streak to five games and shoved them six games below .500 (13-19) for the first time this season, putting the club in a free-fall mode that will welcome any kind of silver lining. "The positive thing is we're getting off the road trip and out of New York," McLaren said. "We need some good home cooking." The Mariners, expected to challenge the Angels for American League West supremacy this season, will begin a seven-game homestand on Monday night against the Rangers, the team Seattle is battling to stay out of last place. "We need something to spark this ballclub," veteran switch-hitter Jose Vidro said. "On paper, we are OK, but on the field, we are not doing our jobs, and we cannot keep going this way." Sunday's series finale started on a good note. Raul Ibanez lined a single into center field with two outs in the first inning, and third baseman Adrian Beltre followed with his sixth home run of the season. It was only the second time in the series the Mariners had consecutive hits in the same inning, and it was the first time during their five-game skid that they had a lead. "We had some momentum there, and the guys were cheering," McLaren said. It was the last point of the game that the Mariners had back-to-back hits in the same inning, and the little momentum Beltre provided was erased during a seven at-bat stretch in the bottom of the third inning. Entering the third, Silva had tossed two straight scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.53 on the season, but Johnny Damon's leadoff single in the third triggered an offensive barrage that included three more singles, a double, a sacrifice fly and back-to-back home runs by Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano. "Silva didn't have his good sinker today," McLaren said. "He centered some balls up, and they took advantage of it. They hit the ball pretty hard off him." Silva begged to differ. "I made a lot of good pitches that they hit," Silva said, referring mostly to a ball hit by Hideki Matsui that landed near the left-field foul line and bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double. "I made a couple of mistakes," Silva (3-1) acknowledged, "and they were hit." Those would be the pitches Cabrera and Cano sent into the right-field seats, putting an exclamation point on the Yankees' uprising. Silva departed two batters into the fourth inning, the first time in seven starts this season that he didn't pitch at least six innings. For the second consecutive game, the top third of the Yankees' lineup did most of the damage. After Damon, Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Matsui went a combined 10-for-19 with three doubles, one home run and five RBIs on Saturday, the foursome came back on Sunday and went 11-for-18, scored six runs and drove in four. McLaren juggled his lineup in the series finale, hoping to generate some offense. First baseman Richie Sexson got the day off, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was moved from ninth to sixth and struggling rookie Wladimir Balentien (3-for-18 since his callup) batted ninth. The result was pretty much the same, however. "There are a lot of good hitters on this ballclub," Vidro said, "but the way we are swinging the bat right now does not show that. I don't know what else to say."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.