Seager breaks out, but Mariners fall to Rays

Seager breaks out, but Mariners fall to Rays

Seager breaks out, but Mariners fall to Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Third baseman Kyle Seager hit a pair of home runs for the Mariners on Wednesday, but it wasn't enough to stop Seattle's five-game skid as the Rays pulled out a 5-4 victory at Tropicana Field.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge noted that "one guy gave us every opportunity to win the ballgame offensively" after Seager's four-RBI night, but voiced frustration over a 14-strikeout effort and too many squandered opportunities.

Wedge dropped struggling cleanup hitter Justin Smoak to seventh in the lineup and he went 0-for-3 as his average fell to .184. Left fielder Chone Figgins slipped to .198 with an 0-for-5 night and shortstop Brendan Ryan was 0-for-3 and now sits at .125.

Figgins and Ryan each struck out three times and Wedge indicated both will need to show something soon to maintain their playing time.

"It's not carte blanche here," Wedge said. "Figgins has numbers off this guy tomorrow [7-for-14 vs. Jeff Niemann], so we'll give him another chance to see if he can get himself going. But it doesn't last forever.

"I am patient," Wedge said. "It's a long season and we're 25 games in and have 130-some odd to play. But ultimately it's about producing. If they're not getting it done, then we'll have to change their roles. ... They've got to show me a reason to keep on playing."

Seager did his part, ending the Mariners' ugly 0-for-30 streak with runners in scoring position over the past four games by stroking a three-run blast to right field off James Shields in the first inning. He added a solo shot in the sixth that tied the game at 4.

"We knew we've had a lot of opportunities lately and have been struggling to get that key hit," said Seager, who recorded the first multi-home run game of his career.

The 3-for-4 night lifted the young third baseman's average to .300 and he now has three home runs and 11 RBIs in 21 games. Seager hit .258 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 53 games last season as a rookie.

But finally given a little offensive support, the Mariners' pitching and defense struggled as Seattle dropped its fifth straight after opening this 10-game road trip with four wins. Tampa Bay has now won eight straight home games and is leading the American League East at 17-8.

The Mariners, who'd scored just five runs over their last four losses, dropped to 11-15 heading into Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Rays.

Seattle starter Blake Beavan gave up a season-high five runs in 5 1/3 innings, the last coming on a home run by Luke Scott that deflected over the center-field fence off the glove of a leaping Michael Saunders.

"To be honest, I don't know exactly what happened," said Saunders. "I know I got a piece of the ball. That's it."

Scott also scored a key run in the fourth after singling on a towering popup that apparently hit a wire in the catwalks above the field and landed between first baseman Alex Liddi and second baseman Dustin Ackley.

"That was awesome," said Scott. "That's a knock in The Show. Anytime you get a base hit, that's a good thing. It could have been a laser off the wall that got to Ichiro too quickly and I couldn't get to second base. It's the same thing in the books."

Neither Ackley nor Wedge thought the ball actually hit a wire, though Ackley said it was just a miscommunication when he yelled at Liddi asking if he had it and the first baseman instead thought he was saying he had it. But Ackley said the ball did get lost momentarily at its peak in the Tropicana Field roof.

"I was tracking it the whole way. I feel I have decent vision, but it was gone," Ackley said. "Once it started to come back down, you could see it again. I imagine he probably lost it at the top, too. Unless he has eagle vision, I don't know if he would have seen that. Those are the tough ones that are straight up in the air like that."

Beavan was hit hard, as well, giving up seven hits and two home runs, the first blast a two-run shot by No. 9 hitter Sean Rodriguez, who came into the game hitting .182. The second-year pitcher is now 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts.

"I didn't keep us in the game. I didn't execute," said Beavan, who didn't have his normal fastball command. "That's why we lost the game, because I couldn't execute and make pitches when I had to."

Outside of Seager's bolts, Rays right-hander James Shields had the Mariners' number. And his number of strikeouts mounted quickly as he hit 10 after just four innings. But his pitch count also rose rapidly, hitting 88 after four innings, thanks in part to a 38-pitch first.

Shields wound up going six innings with 11 strikeouts, handing a 5-4 advantage over to his bullpen. The Mariners had runners at first and third with one out in the eighth, but Wade Davis got Liddi on a popup to the catcher before Smoak drove a ball that was run down in the corner by right fielder Ben Zobrist.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.