Mariners fall back to .500 after blowing another late lead

The M’s had a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh inning, but for the second straight night the bullpen couldn’t hold it

The best you could say about Saturday night was that it was a beautiful pregame ceremony for Edgar Martinez.

For the second straight night, the Mariners blew a late-game lead. For the third straight night, the Mariners lost. And for what feels like a common trend this season, the Mariners dropped to .500.

The Mariners’ 6-3 loss Saturday to the Angels was disappointing for what it could have been — a capper to Martinez’s wonderful jersey-retirement ceremony in front of a sellout crowd — and for what it was: The Mariners led 3-1 at the start of the seventh inning. After the eighth inning, they trailed 6-3.

Reliever Casey Lawrence allowed two runs in the seventh inning, and Tony Zych allowed three more in the eighth inning.

The big concern once the Mariners (59-59) learned on Friday that ace James Paxton would miss a few weeks with an injury was the starting rotation. The Mariners no longer had that reliable starter.

But the issue in the two games since Paxton’s injury has actually been the bullpen. On Friday, the Mariners blew a 5-1 lead, and they followed that up with a similar performance on Saturday.

After starter Erasmo Ramirez gave the Mariners six strong innings, Lawrence replaced him in the seventh inning. Lawrence allowed a single to C.J. Cron and a two-run home run to Luis Valbuena, which tied the game at three.

The Mariners had a chance to take the lead right back in the seventh inning. Newly acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso singled with one out, and Robinson Cano followed with a double into the gap.

Mariners third base coach Manny Acta waved Alonso around third, but the relay throw from Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons beat Alonso by a couple steps.

The Mariners also had the bases loaded with two outs in the third inning, but Jarrod Dyson struck out.

Ramirez gave the Mariners pretty much everything they could have hoped for. In his first two starts after the Mariners acquired him in a trade, Ramirez went a combined 81/3 innings and allowed eight runs (seven earned).

But on Saturday, Ramirez allowed only one run in six innings, and that one run was unearned.

With two outs and a runner on third in the fifth inning, Angels second baseman Kaleb Cowart chopped a ball to Alonso. He fielded the ball and scooped it to Ramirez running to cover first. Ramirez leapt and the ball bounced off his glove.

It was ruled an error on Alonso, and the runner scored.

That was OK, though, because the Mariners had built a little cushion for Ramirez. In the third inning, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager drove in runs with back-to-back singles. In the fifth inning, Seager tacked on another run with a solo home run.

When Mariners manager Scott Servais has talked about his starting pitching recently, he’s mostly talked about his pitchers getting through four or five innings. He’s talked about a quick hook.

To get six good innings from Ramirez was a plus. But then the Mariners’ bullpen blew a lead for the second straight game.

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