- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - It seems a lifetime ago that just last year Seattle Mariners closer Fernando Rodney led the majors in saves with 48.

He’s leading Seattle in sighs this season.

Rodney entered a scoreless game in the ninth inning Friday and promptly gave up a solo home run to Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe in a 1-0 loss.

Rodney (2-3) threw an inside 2-1 fastball to Forsythe, who lifted it over the left-field wall for his seventh home run.

Rodney has allowed a run in nine of 13 appearances since May 1. He also has blown three of his last five save opportunities.

“They got me, but I’m not going to put my head down,” Rodney said. “There are a lot of games left.”

What is equally frustrating for the franchise is the team’s faltering offense. The Mariners have lost seven straight, all during this homestand, and have been outscored 28-13, leaving 62 runners on base. They are hitting just .159 (10 of 63) with runners in scoring position.

“He left a fastball middle-in and the guy hit it out,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Rodney. “The fact is we didn’t score any runs and we lost 1-0. A lot of people want to make a big deal about Rodney giving up a home run. Those things happen, and when you are not winning it is really blown out of proportion.”

Seattle’s ineffective offense was no more apparent than in the bottom of the ninth after Austin Jackson led off with a triple to right off Kevin Jepsen.

Jepsen then struck out Brad Miller.

“You’re definitely going for the strikeout there,” Jepsen said. “You just have to leave it out there, everything. In that situation everything has to go right not to let that run score.”

In a nine-pitch at-bat, Jepsen got Mike Zunino to pop foul to right. Dustin Ackley then flied out to left, to the accompaniment of a loud cascade of boos.

“I’m still scratching my head. This is tough,” McClendon said. “We put ourselves in position time and time again to score runs. We just didn’t get it done.”

Andrew Bellatti (2-0), who worked three innings, earned the victory. Jepsen secured his third save in five opportunities.

Seattle’s Logan Morrison had a third-inning single to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. His career best is 13 straight last season.

J.A. Happ started and went seven innings. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out six. He has had three wins and six no-decisions over his past nine starts.

“You win as a team, you lose as a team,” Happ said. “We’re going to get out of it. Every loss now feels like five, but it is one we just got to turn the page.”


Rays: LHP Matt Moore is getting closer to a return after 14 months since his Tommy John surgery. He’ll have his second rehab assignment Monday or Tuesday for Class-A Charlotte (Florida State League). He’s expected to throw 60-65 pitches. He’ll likely have three more starts before the club decides if he’s ready.

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (strained lat) will throw off the mound Sunday, in the range of 35-40 pitches. He’ll have another session Wednesday, then the club will assess if and where he’ll go out on a rehab assignment. … 1B Logan Morrison, who missed Thursday’s game with back spasms - triggered in the batting cage before the game - was back in the lineup.


Rays: RHP Alex Colome (3-2, 5.05) did not get a fair shake over his two recent starts. He matches up against 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on Saturday, and last Monday dueled with L.A. Angels ace Garrett Richards. He lost that matchup 7-3, allowing three home runs, but matched his season-high six innings. He has allowed seven home runs in 35 2-3 innings.

Mariners: RHP Hernandez (8-2, 2.63) is coming off is worst outing of the season. He gave up seven runs in 4 2-3 innings Monday in a 7-2 loss to the Yankees. In his previous start against the Ray on May 27 in Tampa, he had his season’s best outing, a complete game 3-0 shutout. He allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out eight.


What shows up most alarmingly for the struggling Mariners offense this season is a woeful average - just .215 - with runners in scoring position. That prompted the club to trade with Arizona for slugger Mark Trumbo on Wednesday. “We were 1 for 11 out there (Thursday in a 2-1 loss),” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We need somebody to drive them in, drive ‘em in from first. Better yet, drive them in from home. I’ll take a three-run homer any day.”


After seven-plus seasons toiling in the minor leagues, Rays OF Joey Butler is turning into an “overnight” success story. Since his promotion May 3, Butler is hitting .348 with six doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs. “We all knew that he was going to hit if given consistent at-bats,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who was his teammate at Triple-A Round Rock in 2011. “Now to put the pressure on to say he’s going to continue to hit .350, I don’t think that’s fair, but we’ll take it as long as it lasts.”

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