LOS ANGELES — The lesson coming out of Dodger Stadium over the last two days is the Mariners can build multi-run leads with their improved home run pop, but their vaunted rotation can’t hold them.
Oh, and All-Star closer Fernando Rodney coughed up another lead. The Los Angeles Dodgers scored two runs in the ninth inning Tuesday night that sent the Mariners to another depressing 6-5 loss.
Howie Kendrick’s two-run single with the bases loaded lifted the Dodgers to their second straight walk-off victory.
“I’ll just keep trying to have the best location I can,” Rodney said. “The pitch I made to Kendrick, I tried to keep it down. It stayed a little bit high in the strike zone.”
It was Rodney’s first blown save in 24 opportunities dating to last July, but he coughed up a four-run lead Sunday in Oakland in a non-save situation before the Mariners won in extra innings.
Problems started earlier, though.
Hisashi Iwakuma displayed the same yips as James Paxton did a day earlier although Iwakuma was still positioned for a victory until the Dodgers stung Rodney.
So now what?
“You’ve got to get ready for tomorrow,” said Robinson Cano, who showed signs of breaking an early slump by getting a homer and a double in five at-bats. “Things happen. It’s better that they happen now than later.
“We’ve still got a lot of games left. Maybe it’s a good message for us that we’ve got to keep scoring the rest of the game. I know we’ve got a good team. What more can you do?”
The Mariners staked Iwakuma to leads of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3. Cano and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back homers in the first inning. For Cruz. it was his fifth homer in four games.
It just wasn’t enough.
Iwakuma nearly gave it all back before departing after Andre Either’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning pulled the Dodgers to within 5-4.
Either’s drive, like an earlier two-run shot by Alex Guerrero, came on Iwakuma sliders that appeared to have little of their usual bite.
“It felt like they were swinging hot bats,” Iwakuma said. “Some of the hits that I gave up, I tip my cap. Some of the pitches missed location but, overall, I thought they put up good at-bats.”
Good results, anyway. Even so, the bullpen nearly took it from there. Yoervis Medina provided the biggest boost by stranding two inherited runners in the seventh inning and working a scoreless eighth.
Rodney just couldn’t close it out.
On Monday, Paxton couldn’t hold leads of 4-0 and 5-3 before settling for a no-decision in a similar 6-5 walk-off loss in 10 innings.
“You score five runs,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “you should win a ballgame. It’s very disappointing, and we’ve got to right the ship.
“But I would caution you that we’re 3-5.We’re eight games into a 162-game schedule. I think this team is going to be just fine.”
The Mariners rolled into Dodger Stadium off the momentum of winning two extra-inning games in Oakland and caught a break by not having to face either Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke.
And now, they need a victory Wednesday night to avoid getting swept.
Justin Turner opened the LA ninth inning against Rodney with a single through the right side and raced to third on Jimmy Rollins’ single to center. Carl Crawford’s grounder to third trapped Turner in a rundown for one out.
That left runners at first and second with one out. A walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases for Kendrick, who poked his single into right field.
“There are some teams that you have to fight for 27 outs,” Cano said. “They’re one of them. You just forget about tonight. Go to the hotel. Get some rest. Be ready for (Wednesday) and try to win at least one out of three.”