The Texas Rangers thought they had a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners locked up after an RBI single from A.J. Pierzynski gave Texas a 3-2 lead in the 11th inning.
Joe Nathan was coming on to close and he had yet to blow a save on the road in his two seasons with the Rangers. Nathan had been so dominant he had converted his last 36 straight road save opportunities dating back to 2011. But Raul Ibanez came through as he jumped on a first pitch fastball Nathan left up over the plate for a solo home run to give the Mariners continued life and Nathan his first blown save of the season.
"If you throw it into the zone, then he is pretty good at hitting it," Nathan said. "...He doesn't miss it too often when you put it there."
Elvis Andrus reached third with one out in the 13th inning but the Rangers were unable to drive in the go-ahead run off Mariners reliever Yoervis Medina (1-0). The Mariners finally took advantage after missed opportunities in the ninth and 12th innings.
After nearly homering off Nathan in the 11th, Jason Bay came through with an RBI single off Michael Kirkman (0-1) in the bottom of the 13th inning to drive in Carlos Triunfel and hand the Rangers a 4-3 loss.
"Any time you lose -- especially when you go to extra innings -- it's difficult but they took it from us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had our chance. They took it back and they finally took it from us."
Jurickson Profar hit a leadoff home run off Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma. Texas scored again in the second after hits by Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland put runners in scoring positions. Leonys Martin drove in Cruz on a sacrifice fly to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners left a pair of runners stranded in both the fourth and fifth innings before finally breaking through against Nick Tepesch in the sixth. Kyle Seager doubled down the right field line and Morales homered to knot the game at 2.
Tepesch went 5 2-3 innings for Texas, allowing just five hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six.
The Rangers fumbled an opportunity to possibly retake the lead in the seventh inning. After a leadoff double from Adrian Beltre, Cruz struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt. Beltre was caught between second and third base as the ball bounced away from Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre. Cruz tried to take first base on the play but collided with Sucre and was ruled out on batter's interference. Sucre then ran down Beltre and he was called out for running out of the baseline.
"Cruz misread it wrong. Beltre misread it wrong. There are times on the basepaths that's going to happen," Washington said. "But we took the lead. He had a chance to win the ball game even through all of that."
Iwakuma had another strong outing for Seattle. He allowed two runs and two hits over eight innings. He struck out eight.
"We fought -- did everything we could. It just didn't work out," Pierzynski said.
The Rangers now face a double-header against the Arizona Diamonbacks on Monday with a depleted bullpen. Washington said Neal Cotts will be unavailable after throwing 2 1-3 innings Sunday. Joe Nathan and Tanner Scheppers are also likely unavailable.
"You can't control the way a baseball game goes so we'll figure it out tomorrow," Washington said. "Hopefully (Martin) Perez and (Yu) Darvish can give us nine innings in each game and everything works out good."
Notes: Profar is the youngest player to hit a leadoff home run (20 years, 95 days) since Lou Klimchock (18 years, 348 days) of the Kansas City Athletics homered on Sept. 28, 1958, against the Chicago White Sox. ... Nathan had his streak of 36 consecutive saves on the road snapped with Ibanez's tying home run in the 11th inning. Nathan had converted all 31 save opportunities on the road since joining the Rangers last year. ... Mariners 1B Justin Smoak is day to day after straining an oblique Saturday night. Morales started in his place. Michael Morse also is expected to see time at first base in Smoak's absence. ... Mariners RHP Yoervis Medina earned his first major league victory.