Robbie Ross had never lost a big-league game until last month, and it wasn’t a good feeling. He experienced it again Wednesday night.
Ross gave up a two-run, two-out homer in the 10th inning, the difference in the Texas Rangers’ 4-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark.
The Rangers have lost the opening two games of a three-game series, and will lose a series for the first time since being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays last month.
It was a pitching duel all night, starting with Derek Holland and Felix Hernandez. It continued with a battle of the bullpens into extra innings.
With the game tied 2-2 after nine complete, the Rangers called on Ross. He retired the first two batters, but then walked Michael Saunders after getting ahead 0-2 in the count. Kyle Seager followed by roping a 1-1 fastball over the right-field fence to give the Mariners the lead.
Ross said he was trying to get Saunders to make contact, and wound up pitching around him.
As far as the Seager at-bat, Ross said: “He swings it well. He’s one of those guys who can obviously hit it out of the park.”
The Rangers went down in order in their half of the 10th against Tom Wilhelmsen.
The late-inning action overshadowed what had been impressive pitching performances by Holland and Hernandez.
The night started with the Mariners taking a quick 1-0 lead on a solo shot by Jason Bay to start the game. Holland didn’t allow another run until the sixth, as he worked out of jams in the second and fourth.
He had runners at first and third with no outs in the second, but got Dustin Ackley to fly out to shallow right, Mike Zunino to strike out and Brad Miller to fly out. Holland stranded two runners in the fourth, worked a perfect fifth and then ran into trouble in the sixth after the Rangers had taken a 2-1 lead in the fifth.
Hernandez was on top of his game most of the night, holding the Rangers scoreless through the first four innings. Texas never had a runner in scoring position with fewer than two outs in those first four innings.
In the fifth, though, David Murphy turned on a 2-0 fastball for a solo shot to start the inning. It snapped the Rangers’ four-game homerless drought, and was Murphy’s first blast since June 9.
Two batters later, Ian Kinsler worked an impressive 11-pitch at-bat against the former Cy Young Award winner. Kinsler was down 1-2, fouled off five of the next six pitches and eventually sent a solo shot to the left-field seats.
That 2-1 lead didn’t hold for long.
Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales started the top of the sixth with singles off Holland. After getting Seager to fly out, Holland loaded the bases by walking Justin Smoak after getting ahead 0-2 in the count.
Holland responded by striking out Ackley, but the Mariners tied the game at 2-2 on an infield single by Zunino. Holland didn’t surrender the lead, striking out Miller to end the bases-loaded threat.
“I thought the sixth inning was the turning point,” manager Ron Washington said. “Just couldn’t execute the pitch against Zunino. Next thing you know we were in the 10th inning.”
Holland went six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. It was his second 10-strikeout game of the season.
Neal Cotts worked a scoreless seventh for the Rangers, and Tanner Scheppers worked out of a jam in the eighth.
Morales led off the eighth with a walk, moved to second on a groundout by Seager and third on a single bySmoak. Scheppers got out of it, though, by getting Ackley to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.
Adrian Beltre had a one-out single in the home half of the eighth, but Mariners reliever Charlie Furbush entered and retired the next two batters.
“It was a good game tonight,” Murphy said. “It just didn’t work out our way in the end.”