SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando's right index finger was caked with blood just below the fingernail. The blister that has bothered him from the beginning of the season was again a problem on a cold Tuesday night at Safeco Field.So was the Rangers' inability to hold down an eighth-inning lead for the second straight game. The Rangers, after a suicide squeeze bunt by Elvis Andrus put them on top, needed six outs to protect a one-run advantage and didn't get it done. Instead, the Mariners rallied for two runs off relievers Pedro Strop and Darren Oliver in the bottom of the eighth for a 4-3 victory over the Rangers. With the Angels losing to the Red Sox, Texas remains tied for first place in the American League West but has now lost seven of its last nine games. "We put ourselves in position to win," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "If we can do that every night, good things will start happening." They aren't happening right now. Strop was in position to get his first Major League victory. Instead, he ended up suffering his first loss after allowing three runs in relief of Ogando. "I felt like I could have stopped the bleeding, so I'm upset," Strop said. "But it's part of the game. It happens. I just have to do better when I get another opportunity." He most likely will. Manager Ron Washington is still trying to sort out his bullpen. The Rangers are expecting Neftali Feliz to be back on Friday, but Washington is still trying to identify who are his most trusted relievers for late in the game. Washington went with Strop after Ogando was forced to come out of the game because he felt the rookie right-hander's split-finger fastball could neutralize the Mariners' left-handed bats. It didn't quite work out that way and Rangers relievers have a 4.02 ERA in their last 10 games. "We've got to play," Washington said. "We're not crying about it. Those are the guys who we have down there. We have confidence in them. We're going to keep putting them out there and hope they get the job done. "I'm going with who is available, hoping they get the job done. Right now, they're not getting the job done. We just had to get six outs. ... We just couldn't hold on to it." Ogando left with a 2-1 lead. He allowed one run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He pitched out of big jams in the second and third while allowing just the one run. The Mariners had the bases loaded with nobody out in the second, and Ogando kept them from scoring by striking out two hitters and getting a lineout to end the inning. But the blister came back again, and that's why he was gone after six innings. "It makes it a little bit hard to grip the ball," Ogando said. "I felt pretty good. At first, I was wild but I was able to make adjustments pretty soon." Strop took over in the seventh, and Langerhans led off with a single to right-center. Brendan Ryan came to the plate trying to bunt the runner to second, but Strop did the job by throwing a wild pitch. Ryan then did bunt, right in front of the plate, and catcher Yorvit Torrealba tried for the play at third. Langerhans slid in safely around Adrian Beltre's tag, leaving the Mariners with runners at the corners. Strop got Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a double play, but the run scored, tying the game. The Rangers pushed home the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth. Julio Borbon led off with a single to left off Mariners reliever David Pauley and was bunted to second by Kinsler. Andrus pinch-hit for Andres Blanco and Borbon stole third on a 1-and-1 pitch that was in the dirt. Washington called for the squeeze and Andrus bunted it past Pauley, beating it out for a hit that scored Borbon. But Strop couldn't hold the lead even though he had his first Major League victory right there for the taking. "That's what I thought, too," Strop said, referring to the chance at his first win. Adam Kennedy led off with a high pop that fell for a single in left field to start the rally. Miguel Olivo then dropped a bunt and Strop slipped as he fielded it, allowing both runners to be safe. "I just ran hard to get it and I was so fast, I had to slide to stop," Strop said. Justin Smoak followed with a hard grounder to the right side and first baseman Mike Napoli couldn't make a diving stop. Instead, the ball caromed out into right field, allowing a run to score and moving Olivo to third. Oliver replaced Strop, but Jack Cust lined a first-pitch curve through a drawn-in infield for a single that gave the Mariners a 4-3 lead. "I had the feeling he was going to to that pitch there, trying to steal a strike with an offspeed pitch early," Cust said. "I faced him a bunch over the years. He really doesn't have a pattern. You just have to be ready to hit."
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.