SEATTLE — Joe Saunders didn’t think he was throwing that well when he took the mound Saturday night against Texas. Judging from the Rangers’ offense, he had great stuff.
Saunders allowed one run and three hits in seven innings but the Seattle Mariners couldn’t hold on. Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre hit RBI singles with two outs in the eighth inning, lifting Texas to a 3-1 victory.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best stuff I’ve had,” Saunders said. “I felt like comiing into the game after my bullpen, I was like, ‘Probably going to have to battle tonight.’ “
The run off Saunders was unearned and he left with the score tied 1-all. He is 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 starts at Safeco Field, with all but one of those starts coming as a member of the visiting team.
“It’s always frustrating to lose those close ones,” Saunders said. “When it’s 1-1 in the seventh you always want to try to win those and we just had some thing that didn’t go our way tonight. Sometimes that happens.
The one run he did allow came on a wacky play.
Texas had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning and Nelson Cruz hit a broken-bat line drive with one out at Justin Smoak.
The ball hit the heel of the first baseman’s glove and bounced out. Smoak grabbed the ball and threw to second for the forceout. While Ian Kinsler got caught between second and third and was tagged out by third baseman Kyle Seager for an inning-ending double play, Leury Garcia managed to cross the plate with the tying run.
“Under normal circumstances, bases loaded, nobody out — you get out of there with one run you’re pleased,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “But late in the ballgame, that’s tough.”
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan already had booted a potential double-play ball earlier in the sixth. Smoak said Beltre, who was intentionally walked to load the bases, momentarily blocked his view.
“I should have caught the ball, first of all, but Beltre coming back to the bag kind of blinded me,” Smoak said. “It happened so quick, I just threw it to second.”
Texas broke the tie in the eighth. Carter Capps (0-1) walked Craig Gentry leading off the inning and then got two outs before Andrus broke the tie with a hit to right field. Andrus stole second and kept going to third when Capps’ pitch went to the backstop for a wild pitch, and he scored on Beltre’s single.
The Rangers’ late offense made Saunders’ strong effort irrelevant.
“Saundo was great tonight,” Kelly Stoppach said. “I felt bad we couldn’t scratch a couple across for him.”
Joe Ortiz (2-0) pitched two innings for his second win in three days, and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in four chances.
Jason Bay had two hits and an RBI for the Mariners, who have lost four of five.
Seattle also took advantage of a ball deflecting off a fielders’ glove for its first run. Shoppach led off with a double down the left-field line that bounced over the outfield fence and went to third on Dustin Ackley’s single. With one out, Endy Chavez popped up to left, but it was too shallow for Shoppach to attempt to score.
Bay followed with a liner to center that hit Gentry’s glove as he dove. The ball bounced off, allowing Shoppach to score the game’s first run.
• Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez had tightness in his right groin but hoped the outfielder would return to the lineup Sunday.
• Rangers RHP Yu Darvish will have his next start pushed back to Friday against the Mariners in Texas, giving him two extra days of rest.
• RHP D.J. Mitchell cleared waivers and elected to become a free agent after he was designated for assignment by Seattle on Thursday.