CHICAGO (AP) — Everything went right for Seattle for much of Sunday night. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dae-Ho Lee homered, and Felix Hernandez helped the Mariners get into position for a big win against the Chicago Cubs.
Then everything unraveled in a hurry.
Steve Cishek allowed three runs in the ninth and Seattle lost 7-6 when Chicago pitcher Jon Lester drove in Jason Heyward with a two-strike squeeze bunt in the 12th inning.
“I think for our club, coming in here, they’ve got the best record in baseball. And quite frankly, we should have got two out of three,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It didn’t happen. You’ve got to finish.”
Heyward sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double against Cody Martin (1-1). He advanced on Willson Contreras’ fly ball to center before Lester, hitting for Hector Rondon (2-2), managed to get a safety squeeze down right in front of the plate.
“He did a good job of getting it down,” Martin said. “He completely deadened it. I had a longer run than you’d want to get to the ball. If he hits it any harder, most likely make that play. Kudos to him.”
Heyward made it home with a headfirst slide, sparking a frenzied celebration at Wrigley Field.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘Don’t be late to square around,'” Lester said. “That’s one thing over the last year that I’ve kind of picked up on on bunting, and it’s helped me just be a little more consistent.”
The Cubs trailed 6-3 before they got to Cishek in the ninth, handing the sidewinding right-hander his sixth blown save in 31 opportunities. Addison Russell hit an RBI single and Contreras drove in another run when he hustled down the line to beat out a potential double-play grounder.
With two outs and runners on the corners, Cishek uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Russell to come home with the tying run. Matt Szczur then flied out to right, ending the inning.
“Stuff was terrible tonight,” Cishek said. “I had a hard time commanding my fastball, slider was the not the same and I got exposed.”
It was a heartbreaking loss for Seattle, which was in position to take the rubber game of the weekend series before the late rally by Chicago. Cruz, Cano and Lee each hit a two-run homer against Brian Matusz, helping the Mariners jump out to a 6-0 lead.
Hernandez walked five and hit a batter, but limited the Cubs to two runs in five innings in his third appearance since coming off the disabled list after being sidelined by a strained right calf.
“Tough luck for us. Our offense came through in the first three innings,” Hernandez said. “It’s a tough loss.”
On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, Seattle dealt left-hander Wade Miley to Baltimore before closing out a 4-4 road trip to Toronto, Pittsburgh and Chicago. It went 12-12 in July, but remains in the hunt for a wild card.
“We are glad that Wade can go from one team in playoff contention to another, and to a division that he has had success in during his career,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in an email. “This decision is the best move for the Mariners’ present and future.”
Seattle received left-hander Ariel Miranda in the deal. The Cuban pitcher has spent most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in one game for Baltimore on July 3 at Seattle, allowing three runs and four hits in two innings.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (3-5, 4.27 ERA) gets the ball when Seattle returns home for the opener of a four-game set against Boston on Monday night. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.51 ERA) pitches for the Red Sox.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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