SEATTLE -- In what has become all too familiar at Safeco Field this year, the Mariners dug themselves an early hole and couldn't muster enough offense to overcome the Rangers on Sunday, losing the rubber match of the three-game set, 4-0.
A day after manager Eric Wedge praised his team for taking advantage of run-scoring opportunities and plating seven, the Mariners reverted Sunday, failing to convert on several occasions. Held to five scattered hits, Seattle still had its chances as Rangers starter Matt Harrison -- who has won eight straight starts against the Mariners and is 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA at Safeco -- dealt with command trouble at times and issued four walks.
Still, Wedge is of the belief the final numbers didn't correctly indicate what occurred at the plate for the Mariners on Sunday.
"I thought it was different today," Wedge said. "I know we didn't score any runs, but I felt like our at-bats were a lot better against him -- I think we only struck out a couple times against him. We had seven or eight hard outs."
"I don't know what it is," Harrison said. "I pitch against them a lot during the season and I'm real familiar with them. Sometimes I have to make adjustments, but the biggest thing is you have to execute pitches."
The first opportunity for the Mariners offense came in the first, as they put runners on the corners, but Justin Smoak's groundout to shortstop ended the threat. Seattle again left a pair on in the second as Brendan Ryan lined out to second base to end the inning.
Another opportunity was lost for the Mariners in the fifth as Michael Saunders was doubled off first base after straying too far from the bag on Chone Figgins' line drive that third baseman Adrian Beltre easily caught. Ryan followed with a double that could have scored Saunders -- who runs well -- and Ichiro Suzuki walked, but it became just another rally that flamed out when Casper Wells flied out to center to end the inning.
"You can't make hits, that's just the game," Ryan said. "Just makes it more frustrating when you do what you set out to do against a tough pitcher and there's just no good fortune out there."
Hisashi Iwakuma was the latest victim of poor run support, but the right-hander was far from sharp. A long reliever making his second start with Erasmo Ramirez on the disabled list, Iwakuma quickly put the Mariners at a deficit by allowing a run in a 26-pitch first inning. The Rangers tacked on two more in a 20-pitch third inning, as Beltre plated a pair with a bases-loaded single.
Iwakuma has gone five innings and walked three in both his Major League starts. On Sunday, he allowed four runs on seven hits, including a solo home run to Ian Kinsler in the fifth. Iwakuma said he didn't feel like he built off his first start, but Wedge was pleased with the way he battled and gave the Mariners a chance.
It's the seventh straight series the Mariners have lost, going back to June 15-17 against the Giants as the last time Seattle took a series. This time, the Mariners set out for a seven-game road trip, hoping to draw some sort of confidence from a scoreless end to the series.
"Hopefully they derive some confidence from me and the coaches, and ultimately from each other, that's the way it has to be," Wedge said. "I'm firm in my beliefs that we've got a lot of guys here, as I've mentioned so many times, speaking in particular about the position players, that are going to be solid big leaguers for quite a few years.
"They're going through growing pains, but they're coming to the ballpark, they're playing with a lot of energy. They show up, they play hard and they work hard. It's going to pay off for them."
Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.