Vargas, Mariners can't hold down Rangers
Lefty allows five runs as club's struggles vs. AL West continue
ARLINGTON -- The Mariners worked Rangers starter Colby Lewis like they wanted to in the early innings Friday night, drawing a pair of walks, ripping two doubles and getting his pitch count up in his first start since 2007 after two seasons in Japan.
The Mariners were inches away from a 2-0 lead and possibly a big inning when Casey Kotchman's ground ball up the middle was turned into a double play to end the top of the third.
Then their patient night ended.
Mariners hitters let Lewis get through seven innings with some impatient at-bats, and that was long enough for Texas to produce a big inning in Seattle's 6-2 loss at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Mariners were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and are now batting .200 as a team in those crucial situations. It's way too early to panic about an offense that has scored two runs or fewer in three of five games, new second baseman Chone Figgins said.
Figgins said "it's a positive" that the Mariners kept battling Friday night. They loaded the bases with one out down 5-1 in the seventh, only to have Jack Wilson strike out and Ichiro Suzuki ground out against Lewis, who was reaching 100 pitches.
"All of us have to keep battling," Figgins said. "These are the games you have to learn how to win. We're in the games, we have to finish them off."
Manager Don Wakawatsu was most frustrated with the fourth and fifth innings, when the Mariners went down in order against Lewis. The Mariners made Lewis throw only 20 pitches in the two innings. He threw 27 in the first inning alone.
"We had a good approach for half the game," Wakamatsu said.
And starter Jason Vargas was doing his part to keep the Mariners in the game. He allowed a game-tying home run to Nelson Cruz in the fourth inning, but otherwise Vargas gave up three singles and had four strikeouts through five.
"Vargas looked pretty sharp for five innings," Wakamatsu said. "Then he left a couple of changeups up in the zone."
Actually, Vargas had some bad luck to go with a bad walk and two changeups that were crushed. He got the first out of the sixth on a groundout, but then walked Josh Hamilton, who was hittless for the season at that point, on four pitches. Then came three straight hits, including a bad-hop single off Kotchman that opened things up for the Rangers' four-run, game-changing inning.
"Unfortunately, that ground ball to Kotchman took a bad hop," Vargas said. "I thought my changeup was pretty good and I was pounding the strike zone."
The Mariners are now 1-4 to start the season against division rivals Oakland and Texas, not exactly the way they wanted things to begin. Seattle went 31-26 against its American League West opponents last season during its 85-77 turnaround season.
There are still two more games left here in Texas and the home-opening three-game series against Oakland starting Monday.
The bats are going to have to heat up to stop the bleeding against the AL West.
Wakamatsu said after Friday's game that it isn't time to panic.
"We're five games into the season," Wakamatsu said. "I'm not going to start pushing buttons like the sky is falling. It's a long season."
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.