SEATTLE -- The Rangers don't hit well on the road. They were facing good pitching in tough ballparks for hitters. They are missing some big bats in their lineup.All are valid reasons to consider after the Rangers finished off a tough road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Mariners on Thursday night at Safeco Field. But the simple fact is the Rangers were not happy with the way they are hitting as they boarded their chartered jet for a late-night flight back to Arlington. "It's a combination of things," second baseman Ian Kinsler said after the Rangers couldn't take advantage of a complete-game performance by Colby Lewis. "We're hitting some balls hard right at guys on occasion, but it seems like we can't build an inning. It's a long season, but we're definitely frustrated. As an offense, we definitely want to get going." Instead, the Rangers managed just five singles and a double off Mariners left-handed starter Jason Vargas and right-handed relievers Jamey Wright and Brandon League. An eighth-inning double by Kinsler was their only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Rangers finished the road trip with a 2-5 record and in second place in the American League West, one game behind the Angels. The Rangers have lost 14 of their last 22 games and Friday will only be the fourth time in 36 days that they did not have at least a share of first place in the division. "The road trip could have been better if we get some key hits in situations," manager Ron Washington said. "It just didn't happen." A nine-game homestand might help the offense, even if those games are against three teams with strong starting pitching: the Yankees, Athletics and Angels. The Rangers went into Thursday's games with the highest home slugging percentage and the second-highest home batting average in the American League. On the road, they are seventh in hitting and eighth in slugging. They have a .526 slugging percentage at home and a .358 slugging percentage on the road. Most teams hit better at home than on the road, but the Rangers were third in the league in road hitting in 2010. "We can play Rangers ball anywhere, even on the road," Washington said. "It doesn't matter where we are. We just have to get the hits when we need them. We can do that in Arlington or anywhere else." Lewis, following C.J. Wilson's effort on Wednesday night, gave the Rangers their second straight complete game. The last time that happened was Oct. 5-6, 2001, when Rick Helling and Doug Davis both pitched complete games against the Mariners at Safeco Field. The Rangers lost both of those games 10 years ago. Lewis lost on Thursday despite allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk while setting a career-high with 11 strikeouts. "Hitting comes and goes, but it's frustrating to waste a pitching performance like that," outfielder David Murphy said. "Colby did a great job. We should have gotten him more runs." The Mariners gave Vargas an early lead. Justin Smoak hit a second-inning home run off Lewis, and they added another run in the third on doubles by Brendan Ryan and Luis Rodriguez. Smoak, after going 3-for-4, has now played 11 games against his former team since the July 9 trade brought him to Seattle, and he is hitting .372 (16-for-43) with four home runs and 11 RBIs. "It's always good to get three hits, no matter who it's against," Smoak said. "But against them, just to win is satisfaction for me. They're a great team and have great players and you just have to try to do anything you can to beat them." Lewis put up three scoreless innings after that before the Mariners added a run in the seventh. Ryan led off with an infield single, was bunted to second by Michael Sanders and scored on a two-out single by Ichiro Suzuki. Lewis fell behind 2-0 in the count to Suzuki and pitching coach Mike Maddux went out to the mound. The Rangers have walked Ichiro intentionally in those situations before, but Lewis wanted to go after him. "I felt if I stayed aggressive down in the zone, I could get him." Lewis said. Vargas, who had allowed 10 runs on 14 hits and five walks over 12 innings in his previous two starts, took a shutout into the eighth before the Rangers finally broke through with a run. Julio Borbon beat out a one-out bunt, stole second and scored on a double by Kinsler. Vargas then retired Elvis Andrus on an attempted bunt before reliever Jamey Wright took over. Wright walked Michael Young but got Adrian Beltre on a grounder to short to end the inning. "I went two sinkers and then cutter away," said Wright, another former member of the Rangers. "Just got him to hit a nice little ground ball like he's supposed to. I'm not real happy about walking Michael, but it ended up working out." It also wrote the epitaph for the Rangers' trip. "We just weren't getting the big hits," Washington said. "We had the right people at the plate and didn't get it done."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.