SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz hit a bullet: a one-hop shot headed for right field. Then he watched as Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins went to his right, down to his knees and made a terrific diving stop. Figgins then made a quick throw to second, and shortstop Jack Wilson made a strong relay to first to complete the double play. Cruz, who was batting with one out and runners at the corners in the eighth, threw his hands up in disgust, despair, frustration or all of the above. "I crushed that ball," Cruz said. "It should have been a base hit."
Instead it was just more offensive frustration for the Rangers, who went down for the third time in four games on this road trip with a 3-2 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday night at Safeco Field. "I hit it hard, but that's not my job," Cruz said. "My job is to get the run in, and I didn't do it." The Rangers still have an eight-game lead over the Angels and the Athletics in the American League West. But that's not what they were talking about in the clubhouse after having scored just five runs in their past three games. The offense has hit a lull. "We need to swing the bats a little better," designated hitter Michael Young said. "The last couple of games we haven't been executing like we usually do. But we'll come back tomorrow and make some good adjustments. The Rangers managed just four hits. The only extra-base hit was a two-out double by Mitch Moreland in the seventh. Mariners pitchers walked five, but the Rangers were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, and that doesn't include the two sacrifice flies that accounted for their only runs. "We've got to score more than two runs, that's for sure," manager Ron Washington said. "We've certainly got to pick it up on offense. The pitchers have been doing a good job, but we haven't been doing our job by getting some runs." Rangers starter Colby Lewis held the Mariners to three runs on nine hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out nine. Seven of the nine hits were singles, but the big blow was a fifth-inning home run by Franklin Gutierrez that gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead. "The count was 2-2, and I just wanted to make contact," said Gutierrez, who had bunted home the Mariners' first run in the third on a safety squeeze. "It was a fastball that was up. I didn't know it was going to go out." Lewis is 0-3 despite a 3.60 ERA in his past three starts as the Rangers have scored just two runs in his past 20 innings. "It's just something that we're dealing with," Lewis said. "We have to battle through it. It will come when it comes." Lewis was edged by Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas, who allowed just two runs on three hits and three walks through six innings. "He threw well," said Young, who hit a sac fly in the third. "He's got a good changeup, he changes speeds and he locates the ball well. You have to give credit where credit is due, but as an offense our job is to score runs. Even if the other guy is pitching well, we've got to find a way to score runs." Said Vargas: "They've got a really good lineup, and there's never really a break in it. You've got to keep them off balance and don't ever give them the same look every at-bat. I tried to do the same thing I do with every team, speed them up and slow them down." The Rangers went into Tuesday's game ranked third in the league in hitting, fourth in runs and fifth in slugging percentage. But Vladimir Guerrero, who was hitting .182 in his past 14 games, was given a night off to help him out of his slump, and the Rangers remain without Ian Kinsler, who is on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. The Rangers are 47-29 when Kinsler is in the lineup and 14-16 when he's out. "Without Kinsler in there, it's a big letdown," Washington said. "But the guys we have in there, it's just a matter of time." Cristian Guzman, a two-time All-Star, was acquired from the Nationals to fill in while Kinsler is out. But he is 0-for-10 in three games. "I just have to keep going and keep trying," Guzman said. "I know things will come. For sure they'll come." Guzman, with the score tied at 1, batted with two on and nobody out in the fourth inning and moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Bengie Molina drove home a run with a sacrifice fly, but the Rangers came away with just one run in the inning to take a 2-1 lead. When the Rangers are at full strength, Cruz is hitting in the sixth spot and unlike Guzman, he's not bunting in that situation. But right now the Rangers have to take what they can get until the offense gets going again.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.