SEATTLE -- Franklin Gutierrez saved the Mariners two runs in the fifth inning on Wednesday night, but it was just a momentary reprieve for starter Doug Fister. The Gold Glove-hopeful center fielder dazzled the crowd of 20,174 at Safeco Field with an over-the-fence catch to rob longtime nemesis Vladimir Guerrero of his 22nd home run of the season, but Gutierrez could only watch from a distance when David Murphy doused the enthusiasm with a three-run blast into the right field seats. It turned a two-run Seattle lead into a one-run deficit and the Mariners never caught up, dropping an 11-6 decision to the Rangers in a game settled by Michael Young's grand slam off Garrett Olson in the seventh inning.
The final four runs, which turned a one-run lead into a Texas-sized five-run bulge, could have been prevented if catcher Adam Moore had not lost a popup in the lights and third baseman Jose Lopez had thrown the ball he had fielded an instant sooner to first base. But he double-pumped, his throw was late, prolonging the inning, and Young sent Olson's next pitch into the visitor's bullpen in left field for his 16th home run. "It was really two different ballgames for us," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Early in the ballgame we did a lot of things right, especially getting the pitch-count up on [C.J.] Wilson. I think he had 109 [pitches] at the end of four innings." For the second straight night, the Mariners were doing all the right things, and when Gutierrez snagged the would-be home run in the fifth, the karma still resided with the home team. But things changed in the fifth inning. Fister, seeking his first win since May 14, yielded a run and had a runner on first with one out when Guerrero's bat made contact with the pitch and the result seemed destined to be a game-tying home run. But Gutierrez sprinted back, got to the wall, timed his jump perfectly, and snagged the ball just before it went over the fence. "He's a tremendous center fielder," Fister said. "It's a blessing to have him out there and for him to make those kinds of plays is tremendous." There was no one on the field that could prevent Murphy's ball from going out. The Mariners intentionally walked Nelson Cruz, who already had two hits, to face Murphy and quickly went ahead in the count 1-and-2. "I was trying to get up and in on him a little bit and it came back over the plate," Fister said. "I guess I'm not going to lie, that lit a fire under me," Murphy said. "With your competitive nature, you never like to see a guy walked in front of you. If anything, it just locked me in a little more." Seattle (40-68) squandered a three-run lead after four innings built in part by Moore's two-run homer, and the productive offense included three hits and a career-high-tying four stolen bases by Ichiro Suzuki and two hits apiece from Chone Figgins and Lopez. But it all for naught because of a couple of pitches that cleared fences. "It comes down to the at-bat with Murphy, two down and a 1-and-2 pitch to Murphy," Wakamatsu said. "That turned the whole game around at that point. You look at that and the grand slam, those are two pitches you make a mistake on and they cost you against a team that has a lot of power." That being said, Wakamatsu added, "I thought we did a lot of good things offensively." While the Rangers are pursuing their first division championship since 1999, the Mariners are dividing their attention between the final two months of the regular season and beyond. Moore could be the main man behind the plate for several seasons. He has the potential to become a productive offensive player and that's something the team needs. Going into the game, the Mariners' three-headed catching corps -- Moore, Rob Johnson and Josh Bard -- had combined for five home runs and 23 RBIs in 307 at-bats. Moore, the 26-year-old from Texas, flexed his muscles on a fastball in the third inning, sending the ball into the Mariners bullpen in left-center for his second home run of the season. "It felt good, real good," Moore said. "I watched a lot of video on Wilson before the game and I saw him throw the cutter a lot. I got one, saw it and drove it out of the park." It was a big step forward, especially after striking out three times and going 0-for-4 on Tuesday night in his first start since being recalled from the Minors.
"I had trouble picking up the ball and it was just one of those nights last night," Moore said.He had more difficulty picking up a ball in Wednesday night's game -- Elvis Andrus' foul popup in the seventh inning. "I lost it right off the bat," he said. "I saw Lopey take a few steps. I got over there a little late and couldn't reach it." The ball clanked off the dugout railing and Andrus then reached on the infield single that loaded the bases for Young. "I tried to get ahead of him with a changeup, which I did in the previous at-bat, and it was over the middle," Olson said. "He did a good job of what he does."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.