Nathan rocked for three-run ninth as Rangers fall

ARLINGTON -- The sample size is small and manager Ron Washington is loyal, so don't expect Joe Nathan to suddenly lose his job as the Texas Rangers' closer.

But the early results aren't favorable for Nathan, especially when he works on consecutive days.

He was the losing pitcher in the Rangers' first defeat of the season while working on back-to-back days, and he suffered a similar fate Wednesday night.

Nathan was tagged for three runs in the ninth inning for his first blown save with his new team, and Seattle's late rally for a 4-3 victory spoiled six scoreless innings from Colby Lewis.

Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus connected for back-to-back homers in the seventh inning, but Seattle scored once in the eighth against Alexi Ogando and handed the Rangers and Nathan their second loss of the season in the ninth.

"I'm not concerned," Washington said. "This was the sixth ballgame of the season. We lost a ballgame together. We didn't get it done."

Nathan, who had earned his second save Tuesday, allowed four hits in a Mariners rally started by Justin Smoak's leadoff single. Kyle Seager followed with a double to put runners at second and third, and Jesus Montero lofted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right-center on an 0-2 pitch.

Michael Saunders tied the game with a one-out double and stole third, but was still there after Brendan Ryan struck out. Nathan found himself in a 2-2 count to John Jaso, who hit a breaking ball into center field for a single that plated the go-ahead run.

"They hit a lot of sliders tonight," Nathan said. "They weren't terrible sliders, but they were looking for that pitch. But give them credit. They put together good swings."

Michael Young had an RBI single in the first inning to put the Rangers and Mariners on course for another 1-0 pitchers' duel. Lewis and Kevin Millwood were that good.

Lewis (2-0) logged 109 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, allowing five hits. He left runners in scoring position in the first and fourth, and Ogando stranded a Lewis runner to finish the seventh.

Lewis, the Opening Day starter, struck out six and didn't issue a walk, but he exited with just the 1-0 lead after Millwood silenced his former team.

Millwood labored through the first, when he threw 35 pitches and allowed two hits and two walks.

One of the hits was a bloop double by Josh Hamilton that just sneaked under left fielder Chone Figgins' glove.

But the Rangers scored only once and left the bases loaded when Millwood came back from a 3-0 hole to strike out David Murphy.

The Rangers managed only two hits in the next five innings, a two-out single by Yorvit Torrealba in the fourth and a leadoff double by Kinsler in the fifth.

Kinsler went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Andrus, but Hamilton and Adrian Beltre both popped up to center as Kinsler was left stranded.

"You can look back at a lot of opportunities," Washington said. "Milly was Milly. He's going to battle you. He's a tough character. When he had to, he did what he had to do."

But the long first inning finally caught up to Millwood after a 1-2-3 sixth. He was removed at 102 pitches, which turned out to be the best thing that could happen for the Rangers' offense.

Steve Delabar quickly retired the first two hitters in the seventh, but Kinsler deposited his third homer of the season just over the 14-foot wall in left, and Andrus followed with a drive over the 390-foot sign in left-center.

Seattle responded with a leadoff triple by Jaso and a one-out single by Dustin Ackley to snap a 23-inning scoreless stretch. The run was the second of the season against the Rangers' bullpen.

Unfortunately for them, three more would follow in the ninth.

"Very tough," Washington said. "It was a tough game all night."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram