SEATTLE -- A team batting slump that has to end one of these days, and not a day too soon, reached rock bottom on Wednesday night at Safeco Field. The short-handed Mariners were handed a two-hit, 2-0, loss by the Rangers, dropping Seattle (14-21) into sole possession of last place in the AL West. "It's the same story we have been hearing the last couple of days, weeks, or whatever," hitting coach Jeff Pentland said. "We're struggling, no question about it."
With first baseman Richie Sexson unavailable because of family reasons, and designated hitter Jose Vidro idled for the second straight night with back spasms, the Mariners' depth chart was low and their offensive production amounted to two singles, four walks and a hit batter. The Rangers didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball against tough-luck loser Erik Bedard, but a two-out, run-scoring triple by Brandon Boggs in the fourth inning and solo home run by Milton Bradley in the sixth provided an insurmountable deficit for the run-starved Mariners. "Erik pitched a real nice game," manager John McLaren said. "He was on top of his game and really threw the ball well." Bedard certainly pitched well enough to win, surrendering six hits, walking one and striking out five. It was the seventh time this season that the Mariners lost a quality-start game. "When you go out there and pitch a good game like Erik did, and not get any support, it's a wasted effort," Pentland said. "We didn't do anything to help him. You always feel bad when our guy does a good job. But it's a team thing. You win together, lose together." The winning part has been the tough part, recently. The Mariners have lost seven of their last eight and 11 of their last 16. And the lack of a key hit ranks right up there for reasons why the Mariners have been unable to get on a hot streak and sustain it. They are batting .211 (15-for-71) with runners in scoring position the last 10 games, including three consecutive strikeouts after winning pitcher Vicente Padilla walked the first two batters in the seventh inning. He came back to strike out Jeff Clement and Yuniesky Betancourt looking and Wladimir Balentien swinging. Padilla turned the gamer over to the bullpen, which finished off the combined shutout. "He has always had a good arm and good stuff, but this year he seems to be making more quality pitches," Pentland said. "His command has really improved. We didn't hit any ball hard off of him, really." The two hits -- a second-inning single to center field by Betancourt and Ichiro Suzuki's line-drive single to center in the sixth -- was it for the offense. "It's a grind right now," said McLaren, who watched most of the game from his office. "We're not swinging the bats well, and when we hit the ball hard, its right at somebody. I don't know what else to tell you." McLaren departed in the top of the second inning when he was ejected by plate umpire Mike Wegner. "He thought I said something I didn't say," McLaren said. "It was a misunderstanding and it caught me off-guard. I went out to talk to him about it, and he thought I said something I didn't say." Regardless, McLaren's second ejection of the season was in the books. Dejection also was in the air on this cool night. "Obviously, being around as long as I have, teams I have been with have gone through periods like this," Pentland, a highly respected coach, said. "They are not fun. We're trying to do everything we can to get them going, working with them, talking to them, and that's about all you can do. "We've been harping on their approach," he added, "and it really hasn't been that bad." Bedard, meanwhile, dropped to 2-2 in his first season with Seattle. As for pitching another quality start, he said, "It's doesn't really matter. We didn't win."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.