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Short-handed Seattle silenced by Gray, Rockies

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

DENVER -- Any doubts as to whether the Mariners are starting to miss Robinson Cano, not to mention Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino, continued to be erased Saturday as Seattle struggled again in a 4-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Right-hander Jon Gray quieted the Mariners on four hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings as Seattle lost for the seventh time in its past 10 games, including four of five against the red-hot Rockies.

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DENVER -- Any doubts as to whether the Mariners are starting to miss Robinson Cano, not to mention Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino, continued to be erased Saturday as Seattle struggled again in a 4-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Right-hander Jon Gray quieted the Mariners on four hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings as Seattle lost for the seventh time in its past 10 games, including four of five against the red-hot Rockies.

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Colorado has won 12 of its last 15 to climb to 50-45 in the National League West, just 2 1/2 games back of the front-running D-backs. Seattle slipped five games back of Houston in the American League West at 58-38 and is now just four games ahead of the A's for the second Wild Card spot, with one game remaining before the All-Star break.

With Cano still a month away from returning from his 80-game suspension, Zunino on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised ankle and Cruz sidelined by the lack of a designated hitter in the Interleague road games, the Mariners' offense continued a recent troubling trend.

"Certainly with Nelson Cruz, our big bat, out of the lineup, it's going to be challenging for us," manager Scott Servais said. "The other guys in the middle of the lineup have struggled here in this series and haven't put much together. Without Cruz in there, it's been a challenge."

Even with seven runs in a 10-7 loss in Friday's series opener at Coors, the Mariners have crossed home plate just 24 times in their last eight games. And with the pitching hitting a rough patch at the same time, that's been a tough combination.

Wade LeBlanc took his first loss of the season Saturday, allowing six hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings to fall to 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

"It's not very much fun throwing in a park like this, not for a guy that relies on late movement," said LeBlanc. "That kind of gets taken away with the thin air and you have balls that carry further than they would in a normal park. It's not a great place to pitch. If you don't have your A-plus game, you're probably going to have a long night here. It's frustrating to take this one into the All-Star break, but I'll flush it and move on."

The big blow for the Rockies was a two-run blast by Carlos Gonzalez that carried 455 feet to dead center, per Statcast™, on a 1-2 fastball that stayed in the middle of the plate. It was Gonzalez's fourth career homer against LeBlanc in 20 at-bats.

Video: SEA@COL: CarGo hammers a homer 455 feet

"It didn't move at all," LeBlanc said. "It moved a lot after he hit it, really quickly. It was a mistake. I made a lot of mistakes tonight. That was on the inner half, down, right where lefties like it. But he's had some success against me. I've struggled with execution against him in the past, and it showed up again tonight."

The veteran hurler wasn't alone there, as the Mariners misplayed two balls in the outfield, when an RBI triple by Ian Desmond in the fifth carried over Ben Gamel's head and Mitch Haniger couldn't glove a line-drive double by Nolan Arenado in the seventh.

Video: SEA@COL: Desmond drives an RBI triple to center field

"Ben hasn't been in center field much and Desmond hit that ball pretty well," Servais said. "The ball does carry here. And Hanny probably lost that ball in the lights. That's happened a couple times here on this road trip. All the little things add up. It's a challenging place to play, no doubt about it."

The Mariners also cost themselves a run with a baserunning miscue by Chris Herrmann, who got thrown out at home on an infield grounder to Arenado in the eighth. Herrmann accounted for Seattle's lone run with a double to plate Gamel.

Video: SEA@COL: Herrmann drives an RBI double to right field

"It's been a rough week or so," said Herrmann. "We just really haven't been able to connect all the pieces. We're not hitting in timely situations. It's just one of those things. It's baseball, it's a hard sport and there are going to be a lot of ups and downs."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Mariners made one push against Gray in the eighth when Gamel singled and Chris doubled him home to cut the deficit to 4-1 with one out. Cruz then ripped a hard infield single that Arenado couldn't quite glove cleanly, putting runners at the corners. But the Rockies summoned reliever Adam Ottavino and Herrmann helped him out by getting thrown out at home after hesitating and then bolting for the plate on a checked-swing grounder to Arenado. Jean Segura then struck out to end the uprising.

Video: SEA@COL: Ottavino K's Segura to strand 2 runners

"That was just a brain fart," said Herrmann. "I should have waited for Arenado to throw to first and see what happened from there. I hate making baserunning mistakes like that. Who knows? The game maybe could have changed a little, we could have maybe scored a run and had a guy on third and second with two outs." 

SOUND SMART
The setback snapped a remarkable run by the 33-year-old LeBlanc, who hadn't suffered a losing decision in his first 21 starts with Seattle, including a 2016 stint. That wound up one shy of the MLB record of 22 starts without a loss at the beginning of a pitcher's tenure with a team, set by Whitey Ford of the Yankees in 1953 and tied by Kirk Rueter of the Expos in 1994.

HE SAID IT
"I don't think anybody here was thinking we're going to go through the whole season without a couple rocky stretches, no pun intended. That's where we're at right now. But, we'll come out tomorrow. We have to do more offensively, no doubt. You have to score more runs in this ballpark." -- Servais

UP NEXT
Mike Leake (8-6, 4.36 ERA) closes out the first half for the Mariners in Sunday's 12:10 p.m. PT series finale against Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson (6-3, 3.76). Leake lasted just four innings in back-to-back losses to the Angels, but will look to get back on track against a team he shut out for seven innings on four hits last July while with the Cardinals. He's pitched just once at Coors Field, allowing eight hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 7-4 loss for Cincinnati in 2013.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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