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Rangers can't slow M's in pivotal 7th inning

Claudio labors in relief, offense comes up short in 9th
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- In the solitude of a somber clubhouse, catcher Robinson Chirinos tried to explain what the Rangers are going through after a 9-7 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night.

"Going back and forth, even that last inning, we had a chance to win," Chirinos said. "We're battling and never giving up, trying to compete and win. Yeah, it's tough, games like tonight and last night, we should have won. It's frustrating to let them get away."

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ARLINGTON -- In the solitude of a somber clubhouse, catcher Robinson Chirinos tried to explain what the Rangers are going through after a 9-7 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night.

"Going back and forth, even that last inning, we had a chance to win," Chirinos said. "We're battling and never giving up, trying to compete and win. Yeah, it's tough, games like tonight and last night, we should have won. It's frustrating to let them get away."

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The Rangers did just that, letting this one slip away. They led, 4-1, after three innings and, 6-4, after six. But the Mariners scored five runs in the seventh against relievers Alex Claudio and Chris Martin.

"One big hit away from putting runs on the board and winning a baseball game," manager Jeff Banister said.

This was the second straight night the Rangers lost despite leading after six innings. This time it cost starter Bartolo Colon, who was in position to earn a win after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The start of the game was delayed an hour and 25 minutes by rain and the loss left the Rangers 2-10 at home to start the season for the first time in club history.

Video: SEA@TEX: Colon on his start against the Mariners

"It's hard on everybody," Colon said. "You want to win, especially at home, and the game got away from us. It happens. We can't get anxious or desperate because there are still a lot of opportunities for us."

Colon worked with a 5-3 lead going into the sixth, but he gave up leadoff singles to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, and long fly balls to Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger. That brought home one run and when Colon walked Daniel Vogelbach, Banister brought in Matt Bush to stop the Mariners' rally.

Bush did just that, striking out Mike Zunino. The Rangers got the run back in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. That's when Banister turned it over to Claudio in the seventh. Guillermo Heredia, pinch-hitting for Ben Gamel, led off the inning by beating out an infield single and Dee Gordon doubled down the right-field line.

Video: SEA@TEX: Cano puts Mariners up with a two-run homer

That put runners on second and third, and Jean Segura tied the game with a double to left. Cano followed with a high fly ball down the right-field line for a two-run home run and that was it for Claudio. Cano had one single in 12 previous career at-bats against Claudio before the home run.

"One of those situations as a manager where you look at Bush is good, Claudio is still good," Banister said in explaining the pitching change. "And you play a little bit of the matchup situation there. Maybe put that one on me tonight. I went ahead and made that move and put our guy in there who has been good against that set of hitters. Maybe it's the fact that those guys have seen him and seen him recently."

Claudio now has an 8.10 ERA after 12 appearances and opponents are hitting .395 off him. He had a 2.50 ERA and opponents hit .235 off him last season when he was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year.

"He made some good pitches," Chirinos said. "He got a ground ball on the first guy. Dee Gordon kind of threw his bat out there. After that, he missed a slider to Segura and then the Cano home run. He has been working to get those pitches down and tonight they were up."

Martin took over, but he gave up a two-out home run to Haniger to give the Mariners a 9-6 lead.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Rangers had Diaz in trouble in the ninth and couldn't finish the job. With one run in, Diaz walked Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo with two out to load the bases. Diaz also got behind, 3-0, to Kiner-Falefa with Nomar Mazara on deck. The fourth pitch was a borderline strike that could have gone either way. Kiner-Falefa then hit a 3-1 pitch into the left-center gap, but Heredia caught it to end the game.

Video: SEA@TEX: Diaz secures a four-out save vs. Rangers

"I was just trying to get into a good count and put a good swing on it, maybe win the game, or get on base, and pass the stick over," Kiner-Falefa said. "I felt like I put a pretty good swing on it, the result just wasn't there."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Renato Nunez, in just his third start in left field as a Major Leaguer, made a terrific diving catch in the fourth inning. Nunez was primarily a third baseman in the Minor Leagues.

Video: SEA@TEX: Nunez dives in to catch a liner in the 4th

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Cruz, with a runner on first, launched a ball in the fourth inning that sailed high down the left-field line -- higher than the foul poul -- and well into the seats beyond. It was ruled foul by third-base umpire Eric Cooper. After a crew-chief review, the call was ruled to stand. Cruz then hit the next pitch from Colon a projected 453 feet, according to Statcast™, into the left-field lower suites for a no-doubt home run. More >

Video: SEA@TEX: Cruz goes deep after replay of foul ball

UP NEXT
Gallo is expected back in the lineup when the Rangers and starter Martin Perez face the Mariners at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Globe Life Park. Gallo did not start on Saturday for the first time this season. Gallo hit two home runs off Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez the last time they faced each other on Aug. 1, 2017.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre, Alex Claudio, Bartolo Colon, Nomar Mazara, Jurickson Profar