One bad inning was all that prevented the Mariners from a sweep of the Texas Rangers. Jason Vargas in the fourth inning gave up a solo home run to Mike Napoli and a two-run shot to Geovany Soto, which was more than the Mariners' meager offense could overcome in a 3-2 loss Sunday at Safeco Field.
The Mariners made a game of it in the seventh with solo homers from Brendan Ryan and Eric Thames, but left the bases loaded in the eighth and a runner on second in the ninth to continue a theme -- in the concluded six-game homestand, the Mariners were 3-for-45 with runners in scoring position.
The Rangers, with the American League's best record at 90-62, won the season series over Seattle 10-9, denying the Mariners their first season-series victory over the Rangers since 2007, as well as Vargas's attempt at a career-high 15th victory. He pitched six innings and gave up the three runs on eight hits and two walks. His 35 homers surrendered is second in the AL.
His Texas counterpart, Ryan Dempsey, struck out eight and gave up six hits and a walk. Joe Nathan earned his 35th save when he stranded Michael Saunders, who singled with two out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, when he struck out Franklin Gutierrez to end the game in front of 19,024.
After a day off Monday, the Mariners, the only team in the AL West out of postseason contention, will attempt to play wild-card spoiler with three in Anaheim and three in Oakland. The loss Sunday assures, at 72-81, another non-winning season.