Detroit pushed across the tying and go-ahead runs off relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Charlie Furbush in the seventh inning and held on to hand the Mariners a 5-4 defeat Thursday at Comerica Park, Seattle’s 86th loss of the season. The Mariners, hoping to avoid their fourth 90-loss season in six years, have nine games remaining.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the first, trailed 3-1 after four, and jumped in front 4-3 in the fifth on Dustin Ackley’s three-run homer, but couldn’t hold it after manager Eric Wedge lifted starter James Paxton and went with Wilhelmsen and Furbush.
In the seventh, Wilhelmsen surrendered a leadoff double to Torii Hunter. After retiring Miguel Cabrera on a fly ball, Wilhelmsen gave way to Furbush, who gave up a single to Prince Fielder, a run-scoring double to Victor Martinez and an RBI single to Omar Infante that plated Fielder in a controversial play.
Fielder lumbered around third following Infante’s hit and appeared to be out sliding under catcher Mike Zunino’s tag, but was ruled safe in part, it appeared, because Zunino set himself up to make the tag too far away from the plate.
The Mariners have dropped four of their last six, nine of 11 and 13 of 17 in September. Seattle also fell to 2-5 on this 10-game road trip and to 18-26 in one-run games.
Paxton, who entered the game 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA, didn’t fare nearly as well in his third big league outing, allowing three earned runs on five hits in 5.0 innings. He struck out three but walked four.
“He didn’t quite have the command that we’ve seen him have,” Wedge said of Paxton. “He really worked hard his first three innings, but still gave us every opportunity to win. Overall, we gave them (the Tigers) everything they could handle over the four days. I’m not looking for moral victories, but I am proud of our effort.”
While Paxton took a no-decision (Furbush took the loss and suffered a blown save to boot), former Mariner Doug Fister collected the victory, his 13th. Fister allowed four earned runs on nine hits and whiffed 10.
Raul Ibanez’s run-scoring single, plating Kyle Seager, gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the first, but Detroit answered with a pair on a Hunter homer, his 17th, and a Martinez RBI double. Paxton, after intentionally walking Martinez in the third to load the bases, unintentionally walked Infante on four pitches to give Detroit a 3-1 edge.
Ackley ripped a three-run homer, his fourth, in the fifth to send Seattle ahead 4-3.
ARMS: Paxton’s ERA jumped from 0.75 to 2.12. He will probably make one more start . . . Furbush fell to 2-6 and suffered his fifth blown save.
BATS: The Mariners produced nine hits, only two for extra bases. Seager had Seattle’s only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored . . . The Mariners stranded six and went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
QUOTES: “It was bang-bang, so it was hard to tell. I thought Mike did a nice job. The way the throw (relay from Carlos Triunfel) came in, he had to work hard to make the tag. But I thought he did a good job” — Eric Wedge, Seattle manager, on catcher Mike Zunino tagging Prince Fielder at the plate in the seventh inning.
NOTES: Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw a successful bullpen session Thursday and will start against the Angels in Anaheim Sunday, when Seattle and L.A. close out a three-game series. Hernandez hasn’t pitched since Sept. 2 when he suffered a strained oblique in his left side . . . Shortstop Brad Miller remained sidelined with a sore hamstring Thursday. Miller hasn’t been available since he suffered the injury Saturday in St. Louis. . . Hisashi Iwakuma, who beat the Tigers 8-0 Wednesday, will finish the season with the third-lowest road ERA in club history at 2.45. Hernandez finished with a 1.99 in 2009 and Randy Johnson at 2.45 in 1995.
NEXT: The Mariners begin a three-game series in Anaheim Friday against the Angels that will close out the 2013 road schedule. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-2, 4.98) will work for Seattle opposite RHP Jered Weaver (10-8, 3.36). The Mariners return to Safeco Field Sept. 23 for a three-game series with Kansas City.