Mariners subdued in loss to Giants

Mariners subdued in loss to Giants

Mariners subdued in loss to Giants
SEATTLE -- Jason Vargas pitched eight solid innings for the Mariners on Friday night, but couldn't match the excellence of Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong as Seattle dropped a 4-2 decision at Safeco Field.

Vogelsong gave up just four hits and two runs in seven-plus innings as the Mariners' offensive struggles at Safeco Field continued.

The Mariners have lost six straight since opening this nine-game homestand with a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers. They've totaled just 14 runs in those seven games, a troublesome trend for a team now batting .197 for the season at Safeco Field.

"We're going through a tough stretch," said manager Eric Wedge, whose club fell to 10-19 at home. "We got some hard outs, but these guys have got to make their own breaks, they've got to take advantage of opportunities and we need people to step up.

"We need our veteran guys to do more when they're in there. They've been around the block before. We need our young kids to relax and go out there and let it happen, not try to do too much."

The Mariners were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, with Ichiro Suzuki missing on two of the biggest opportunities with a popout with runners on first and second and one out in the third and a fielder's choice grounder with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth.

Ichiro is batting .259 with a .286 on-base percentage, both well below last year's career lows of .272 and .310. He's hitting .148 (9-for-61) with runners in scoring position.

"We need more from him, it's as simple as that," said Wedge. "He's obviously our most veteran guy and when he has those opportunities, we need him to step up. We can't always put it on the kids. We need guys that have been around a little bit to step up as well, and obviously he's been here longer than anybody."

Vargas battled his way through eight innings, tying his longest start of the year. But two home runs wound up costing the 29-year-old left-hander as he fell to 7-6 on the season with a 3.95 ERA.

Catcher Buster Posey ripped a 3-2 changeup into the first row of the upper deck in left field leading off the second and Melky Cabrera just cleared the center-field fence with a two-run shot in the eighth that gave the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Vargas has allowed just four home runs in six Safeco Field starts, but all of those have come in his last three home outings, and he's given up 10 long balls in his past seven starts overall.

"That's kind of what's been happening. The last [seven] starts, the home runs are what's killed it," said Vargas. "They're disappointing, especially the two-strike homer early in the game. That one to center field, I was trying to throw that pitch there. It's frustrating when you throw it where you want and it happens to go like that. We keep it two runs there and we've really got a chance to win."

Vargas has had a good streak of run support with the Mariners scoring eight or more runs in three of his previous five starts, but that certainly wasn't the case Friday against Vogelsong.

Seattle gave away one early opportunity when Jesus Montero led off the second with a double, but was doubled off when Michael Saunders lined out to center as the rookie was full steam ahead toward third.

"That can't happen," said Wedge. "It happened the other day and it happened again today. We talked about it; he has to read that better and make sure it gets down. Make a mistake once is one thing, but twice is another."

That play might be Example A of the young Mariners trying too hard to make something happen at Safeco Field.

"I thought that ball was going to fall in and I was going to score," said Montero. "I was thinking you've got to make it home right now so we tie the game. I'm not that fast, so I was trying to get home. I just want to score; I want to help the team and do my best to get us a run."

Seattle finally knocked Vogelsong out with back-to-back singles by Dustin Ackley and Olivo leading off the eighth. Both those runners came around to score after the Mariners loaded the bases, but they didn't make much out of that situation with three straight ground-ball outs.

"It seems like we haven't had a lot of situations with runners on, but when we have, we haven't cashed in," said Ackley. "It's frustrating."

And after six straight losses at home on the heels of a promising nine-game road trip, that seemed to be the word of the day.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.