After nursing a 1-0 lead through seven innings, the Mariners, courtesy of relievers Yoervis Medina and Oliver Perez, unraveled in the eighth, allowing three runs to fall to Tampa Bay 4-1 Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field. Seemingly primed to sweep their third series of the season, the Mariners couldn’t get it done, falling to 65-78.
The Mariners have 19 games remaining and need to win eight to avoid another 90-loss season.
Kendrys Morales whacked the first pitch he saw in the second inning for his 20th homer, a solo shot that gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, which starter Erasmo Ramirez carried into the seventh.
After reliever Charlie Furbush worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam, Medina and Perez couldn’t help themselves in the eighth. That prevented Seattle from recording its first sweep of the Rays since Aug. 7-9, 2006 in a series at Safeco Field.
Before leaving in the top of the seventh, Ramirez walked Kelly Johnson on a full count and issued a single to Jose Lobaton. Furbush then walked Wil Myers on a full count, but got Delmon Young to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play and retired Ben Zobrist on a fly ball.
Medina, who took over in the eighth, hit Evan Longoria with a pitch, walked Luke Scott and then gave up an RBI double to James Loney that tied the game. Manager Eric Wedge immediately yanked Medina, replacing him with Perez, who entered with runners at second and third with none out.
Perez threw a fastball up and out over the plate, which pinch hitter Sean Robinson whacked into center, driving in pinch runner Desmond Jennings. Loney then scored when Abraham Almonte misplayed Robinson’s hit in center field.
The Rays added a run in the ninth on Jennings’ double to left off Hector Noesi, which scored Zobrist, who singled.
ARMS: Erasmo Ramirez allowed four hits and no earned runs with five strikeouts and four walks . . . Reliever Yoervis Medina threw only eight pitches and allowed three earned runs . . Hector Noesi faced seven batters in the ninth and six reached base.
BATS: The Mariners had five hits, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight . . . Brad Miller had Seattle’s only multi-hit game with a pair of singles.
QUOTES: “Erasmo was good. Again, I love his aggressiveness. He used all of his pitches, his arm action good, his arm was strong, and he did a nice job today. The last three starts, there has been a definitive difference with his confidence. He’s able to throw any pitch any time with a great deal of confidence” — Wedge.
NOTES: Rookie Nick Franklin sat out Sunday’s game (except for pinch hitting duty) after taking a knee to the head Saturday from Justin Smoak while the pair chased a pop fly. Wedge said the decision to sit Franklin had more to do with getting Dustin Ackley some time at second base . . . Felix Hernandez will throw a bullpen session Monday to test his back in advance of Wednesday’s start against Houston. Hernandez suffered cramps against Kansas City Monday . . . Raul Ibanez, who has 27 home runs, needs two to reach 300 for his career. Ibanez also needs two to match the major league record for most in a season by a 41-year-old. Ted Williams hit 29 for the Boston Red Sox in 1960 . . . The Mariners have recorded two, three-game sweeps this season, July 12-14 vs. the Angels and at Houston July 19-21 . . . The Mariners begin a three-game series with the Astros Monday night at Safeco Field. RHP Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.60) makes his home debut, opposing RHP Jarred Cosart (1-1, 2.13).