Seattle shows life, but skid reaches eight

Seattle shows life, but skid reaches eight

SEATTLE -- Safeco Field got a bit louder on Saturday night, but the Mariners stayed silent.

Mired a seven-game losing streak entering the contest, the Mariners improved in several areas and fought the Angels for 10 innings, but they were done in for the eighth straight time on the homestand when Hideki Matsui's RBI single dealt Seattle a 4-3 loss before 30,446.

The Mariners, who fell to 11-19 for the season, had their best opportunity to break out of their skid in the bottom of the ninth, when they loaded the bases on three walks against Angels reliever Fernando Rodney, but Mike Sweeney grounded out to end that threat.

All told, they left 12 men on base and couldn't cash in a victory despite drawing nine walks, getting a baserunner via a hit batsman and tallying seven hits. They were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"You look at the offense and you try to take some positives every night to get better," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "No. 1, the nine walks and one hit batter. The unfortunate thing is you only score three runs, and it goes back to timely hitting. You go through the lineup and there's several guys who left guys in scoring position.

"We did have a couple of two-out RBIs -- again, a step in the right direction. But that's a ballgame we should win with the amount of walks that they gave up."

In the meantime, the numbers from the 0-for-homestand that ends on Sunday afternoon before the team heads out for an eight-game road trip to Baltimore, St. Petersburg and Oakland are piling up, and they don't look good.

It's the longest losing streak at Safeco Field since the 101-loss Mariners dropped eight straight home games from June 1-16 in 2008. It's also the longest overall Mariners losing streak since a 12-game skein from Sept. 11-22, also in '08.

Heralded offseason acquisition (and former Angel) Chone Figgins went 0-for-3 and is hitting .192. First baseman Casey Kotchman (also a former Angel) went 0-for-4 on Saturday and is batting. .194. Third baseman Jose Lopez, who drove in 96 runs last year, is batting .215. Catcher Rob Johnson is hitting .130.

And with all that, the team was in Saturday's game and had chances to win it. A big reason for that was starter Doug Fister, who continues to shine.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander didn't get a decision, but he continued to earn his keep as the true ace of the staff so far this season, turning in his fifth straight quality start by firing seven innings of three-run ball. He remains among the American League leaders in ERA at 1.71 and leads the AL with five starts of at least seven innings.

"I'll tell you what," Wakamatsu said. "I thought Fister went out and pitched his tail off again. This guy's been outstanding. I thought he battled through some jams but still gave us seven innings and a quality start. He just gets better and better."

Added Angels skipper Mike Scioscia: "We saw him last year, and he really has the ability to move that fastball into some spots, and he has a good changeup and breaking ball. He came right after us. He turned that fastball into three or four different looks. We got to him as the game moved on, but he's been having a good year for them and he pitched well tonight."

The Mariners' offense got a little better on Saturday night, too, and it's something the hitters said they would try to build on.

"I felt like our energy was definitely there," said Johnson, who went 1-for-5, including a rocket of a line drive in his first at-bat that was caught by diving third baseman Kevin Frandsen. "I felt like we were all pulling for each other, which has been there. Being in the game definitely helps, but we're trying to get out of this thing."

Johnson had a chance to get them out of it in the eighth inning, when he struck out with runners on second and third with two out. He had the confidence of Wakamatsu, who left him in the game against right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen despite the fact that left-handed-hitting Ken Griffey Jr. was available on the bench.

"At some point, we can pinch-hit for everybody in this lineup," Wakamatsu said. "But somebody's going to have to step up and get a big hit."

On Saturday, it was an opposing player who got that hit, and it's becoming a sight all too common for the Mariners during this slide.

Even though they showed signs of life, rallying from an early 3-0 deficit by scoring twice in the fifth inning on an Ichiro Suzuki triple and again in the sixth on a Sweeney RBI double, the result was the same.

"You just keep battling," Figgins said. "We played a good game, and you know what? They got the big hit. They made the big pitch. But we played a real good game tonight. We hung in there. We played nine innings. They just got the big hit when they needed to.

"You just keep fighting, every day. It's tough for all of us, but you know what? You get to go home, enjoy your family and come back and try it again tomorrow. That's the best way you can do it."

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.