SEATTLE -- Blake Beavan was terrific on the mound for five of his six innings on Monday night. Unfortunately, neither he, nor the 16,205 at Safeco Field, could erase the one disastrous inning.
The Mariners offense was unable to bail out Beavan after he allowed four runs in a laborious third inning, as they dropped the opener of a three-game set with the Rays, 4-1. The loss snapped the Mariners' seven-game home win streak and Beavan's personal four-game win streak.
After Beavan retired the first batter of the third, the Rays put together five consecutive hits. The big blow was a crushing two-run homer by B.J. Upton into the upper deck in left that made it 3-0, and the scoring was capped by an RBI double by Ben Zobrist.
Beavan, who needed just 24 pitches to get through the first two innings, threw 43 pitches in the third.
"I think just the pitch to Upton is the only one I'd take back," Beavan said. "The changeup to Zobrist was a pretty good pitch and he just drove it in the gap. Maybe he was just looking for it there, the first one I threw he took. He's a smart hitter, a good hitter and he hit a good pitch. The Upton pitch I think is the one I'd like to take back if I could."
The third proved to be the only trouble Beavan would have through six innings. The right-hander faced just one batter over the minimum in the other five innings, benefiting from a double play and a caught stealing. Five of the eight hits he allowed came in the third, and he didn't walk a batter.
"One, getting through it was big," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That early in the ballgame, the last thing you want to do is get into your bullpen, first game of the series, that early. Then to go back out there, we talked about it because he threw a lot of pitches that inning on whether or not to even send him back out. We were just going to pretty much take it from inning to inning there. He got it pretty good, he got it pretty easy after that."
"It was just good for me to bounce back and just do what I should have been doing all game, which is making pitches and executing pitches like I know how to," Beavan said. "Should have been a totally different game if I can just execute a pitch here and there and make a quality pitch instead of just a pitch that was average."
Beavan is now 4-1 with a 4.02 ERA with 24 strikeouts in six starts since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. Before he was optioned to Tacoma in mid-June, Beavan was 3-6 with a 7.05 ERA.
Trayvon Robinson showcased his speed and helped the Mariners get on the board in the fifth with a leadoff triple to left-center. Eric Thames followed with a single through the right side on the first pitch he saw to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Any momentum was instantly shut down, however, as Thames was caught ranging too far off first on a ball in the dirt and was picked off. Despite a one-out walk by Chone Figgins, the Mariners couldn't score any more runs in the inning.
It was a frustrating night for the Mariners offense. Outside of the fifth, Seattle was able to produce just three hits -- two of which came off the bat of Kyle Seager -- as Rays starter Alex Cobb shut them down through seven innings of four-hit ball. The combination of Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney finished the game with an inning apiece.
Even with the offensive struggles, Rays manager Joe Maddon came away impressed.
"They have some interesting people there," Maddon said. "I'm really a big fan of [Jesus] Montero. I like the top of their batting order. I think they're good players. They're really getting interesting."
But impressing the opponent wasn't good enough for a win on Monday, as the Mariners are left to lament the inability to put together an inning to match what the Rays did in the third.
"We were in the ballgame," Wedge said, "but we just never had that inning, we never put that inning together."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.