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Sunday, July 15, 2012 - Page updated at 04:30 p.m. Information in this article, originally published July 13, 2012, was corrected July 14, 2012. A previous version of this story incorrectly cited Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood's previous start as being on June 27. His previous start was actually on July 6.
Mariners' rally falls short
By Master Tesfatsion
Seattle Times staff reporter
A late ninth-inning rally by the Seattle Mariners fell short as they fell to the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Friday night at Safeco Field.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders reached base on an error by first baseman Michael Young, scoring Kyle Seager. The ball bounded into foul territory down the right-field line, but third-base coach Jeff Datz held Justin Smoak at third. Saunders was caught between first and second base and was tagged out in a rundown.
"It's a tough break for us," manager Eric Wedge said. "The furthest guy away from it is Jeff right there in that situation. You don't want to run into an out but obviously the ball ricocheted further than he thought."
Smoak later scored on a wild pitch from closer Joe Nathan with pinch-hitter Carlos Peguero at the plate. Peguero walked to put runners at the corners for Dustin Ackley. Nathan quickly got an 0-2 count and struck out Ackley to end the game.
"It's tough when you get behind on a guy like that," Ackley said about Nathan. "With the stuff that he's got, you've got to look to hit something early because battling him is pretty tough."
Seattle starter Kevin Millwood fell to 3-7 in his second start since June 27, when he experienced discomfort in his right groin against the Oakland Athletics. In a game Millwood said he pitched "OK," he allowed three runs on eight hits in 6-2/3 innings and struck out four.
Millwood thought he didn't locate the ball as well as he wanted, especially when he allowed a two-run homer to third baseman Adrian Beltre in the sixth.
With outfielder Josh Hamilton on first, the former Mariner blasted his 16th home run on a 1-0 count into the upper-deck seats in left field.
"When you're playing a team of that caliber, you've got to make all the plays you can," Millwood said. "You've got to make pitches when you get a chance. We weren't able to do it."
Millwood coasted during his first attempt through the Rangers' lineup. Second baseman Ian Kinsler led the game off with a single just outside the reach of Smoak's glove at first base, but Millwood retired nine straight batters after the hit.
Smoak had a great opportunity to kick off the second half of the season on a good note with the bases loaded with one out in the fourth inning.
Texas starter Derek Holland allowed a single to Casper Wells and walks to Jesus Montero and Seager to load the bases for Smoak.
After a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux, Holland got Smoak to pop out to shortstop Elvis Andrus on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Smoak slung his bat toward his dugout in disgust as he trotted out of the batter's box. Miguel Olivo lined out to right field to end the inning.
"Smoak had a great at-bat there," Wedge said. "He just missed a couple balls foul, fought off everything and Holland pitched him tough too. Neither one of those guys gave in."
Holland (6-4) allowed four hits and two walks in in 7-2/3 scoreless innings. It was Holland's second start since he was put on the disabled list on June 7 due to left shoulder fatigue.
Millwood is 1-1 against the Rangers this season in four starts. Before Friday's game, Millwood had held the Rangers to one earned run or less in four straight starts. He had a 1.06 ERA during that stretch.
"I think the first three games I pitched against them I felt like I located the ball pretty well and kind of used their aggressiveness against them a little bit," Millwood said. "But today, I didn't feel like I located that well. Breaking balls weren't very good."
The Mariners have now lost a league-high 14 games when holding opponents to three or fewer runs.
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