After the Mariners squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth inning, Tampa Bay jumped on Joe Saunders for four runs in their half en route to a 7-1 romp at Tropicana Field Thursday night. The Mariners did almost nothing offensively — five hits — except for Raul Ibanez’s 25th home run.
The Mariners (55-65) lost their second straight and 18th series of the year against 15 wins and six splits. Seattle has dropped 12 of its last 18 and is 7-13 since the end of its eight-game winning streak.
Alex Cobb, making his first start for Tampa since taking a line drive off the side of his head more than a month ago, dominated the Mariners through five innings and was especially effective in the fifth when, after loading the bases with two outs, he struck out Nick Franklin on a 3-and-2-pitch to end Seattle’s best chance.
The Rays immediately began raking Saunders. After Sam Fuld and Sean Rodriguez singled, Wil Myers, who had three hits and four RBIs, ripped a two-run double. Evan Longoria then jacked a two-run homer for a 5-1 lead. The Mariners had no answer.
Saunders, taking his 12th loss against 10 wins, worked 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits with three walks and nary a strikeout. Saunders has lost four of his past five outings.
In the second inning, Ibanez, who hit 24 home runs before the All-Star break, hit his first since July 12, on a 3-and-1 count, to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Ibanez had gone 21 games without a long ball. He needs four more to tie Ted Williams’ 1960 single-season mark by a 41-year-old.
The Mariners move to Texas Friday for three games. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-6, 3.02) will pitch for Seattle opposite LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07). They have three in Oakland before returning to Safeco Field for three against the Los Angeles Angels.
NOTES: According to acting manager Robby Thompson, manager Eric Wedge might return to the dugout for the next home stand, which begins Aug. 23 against the Angels. “He’s passing everything with flying colors,” Thompson told mariners.com. “He’s feeling much better. And there’s a real good chance that he’ll rejoin us when we get back. That’s kind of where it stands right now.” Wedge suffered a stroke July 22 . . . Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen is 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA in 6.0 innings since being optioned to AAA Tacoma.