Mariners confident offense will come around

Lack of production highlighted in shutout for seventh straight loss

Mariners confident offense will come around

SEATTLE -- Fernando Rodney gave up the game-winning home run -- a solo gut punch by Logan Forsythe in the ninth in the Mariners' 1-0 loss to the Rays on Friday -- but that was hardly Seattle's only issue leading to a seventh straight loss.

An ongoing lack of offense was capsulized in the bottom of the ninth when Austin Jackson led off with a triple, but wound up stranded at third as Seattle, again, could not capitalize on what scoring opportunities it did have on another frustrating night at Safeco Field.

The Mariners finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with Robinson Cano grounding out with the bases loaded in the seventh in an 0-for-4 night and Brad Miller, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley going down in order in the ninth to leave Jackson standing 90 agonizing feet from home plate.

"We've got to get him in," said Miller, who struck out to start that final run of frustration. "A-Jack, that shouldn't go without being rewarded. He came up with a big clutch hit and that's something you want to take and run with. They just did a better job than us. But unacceptable. We've just got to get him in."

The Mariners have scored just 13 runs during their seven-game skid. Their team batting average is down to .237, second-lowest in the American League, and that number drops to .212 with runners in scoring position.

"It's tough," acknowledged manager Lloyd McClendon. "We put ourselves in position time and time again to score runs and we just didn't get it done."

The Mariners traded for Mark Trumbo two days ago to add a proven run-producer to the middle of the order, but Cano continues to struggle, hitting .243 with 18 RBIs in 54 games. And now American League home run leader Nelson Cruz has cooled down with no homers and just one RBI in his last nine games.

Cano had the opportunities on Friday, but grounded to first with runners on first and third in the fifth and again with the sacks full in the seventh.

"Hitting can be contagious," McClendon said. "We just need somebody to step up and get a big hit. I don't think panic is the thing to do. We have to stay the course. Robbie is no different than a lot of other guys in that lineup. We have to take a deep breath, relax and try to get it done."

Miller is among those who feel the momentum will turn quickly for a team expected to contend this season with the addition of some veteran hitters to a club that went 87-75 last year.

"It will," Miller said. "When it rains, it pours, and we'll get steamrolling. Baseball is like that. You can be on the other end of the spectrum pretty quick. We just need to keep pushing toward that.

"There are some guys with a lot of experience here that have been through a lot of things. The biggest thing is there are no shortcuts. You keep working and the tide will turn and hopefully you can look back on it as a period we overcame as a team."

Until then?

"Strap 'em on and get ready for tomorrow," McClendon said. "This is a tough game. Ask the team in Detroit. They've lost eight in a row. So it is very difficult and you go through stretches that don't look pretty. For us, we have to stay the course. We have to get back out here tomorrow and work even a little harder to get it done."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.