SEATTLE — A flurry of roster moves and Joe Saunders pitching at Safeco Field, where he had never lost, couldn't snap Seattle's skid.
Make it seven straight losses for the quickly fading Mariners.
Jeff Baker hit a two-run homer and Lance Berkman added a three-run shot, both off Saunders, and the Rangers beat the Mariners 9-5.
Baker's shot in the second inning gave the Rangers the lead, but it was Berkman's fourth homer of the season into the left-field seats that broke the game open in the third and sent Saunders to his first career loss at Safeco Field. It was the first homer for Baker since May 10 and first for Berkman since May 11.
Saunders (3-5) entered the night 9-0 at Safeco Field, including a 3-0 mark with a 0.94 ERA this season. But he gave up six earned runs and eight hits in just five innings and his ERA jumped from 0.94 at home this season to 2.67 thanks to the Rangers.
"This one is on me," Saunders said. "It's my fault."
In the hours between Wednesday's loss in Anaheim against the Angels and Friday's opener against Texas, the Mariners sent slumping catcher Jesus Montero to Triple-A in the hopes of igniting his lackluster bat and designated for assignment infielder Robert Andino. The roster moves weren't unexpected, but they failed to give Seattle a jolt on the field.
If there's any solace for Seattle, its losing streak has a chance at ending in the next two days with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma finishing out the series against the Rangers. Saunders was unable to be that answer.
"He struggled tonight. He still battled and got us through five innings, but he threw a lot of pitches," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He made some mistakes and they got to him."
Seattle's slump took an added twist thanks to a botched call by first base umpire Jeff Nelson in the second inning. Jesus Sucre hit a grounder to Mitch Moreland at first, who threw down to second to get the lead runner. The relay from Elvis Andrus back to first was in time to get Sucre but the throw was caught by Texas starter Justin Grimm running over to cover and not Moreland, whose foot was on the bag. Nelson missed that it was Grimm who caught the throw and called Sucre out.
Wedge went out to argue, but his argument was that Moreland had pulled his foot off the bag. He didn't realize until watching the replay later that it was Grimm who caught the throw and it never reached Moreland's glove.
"It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time," Wedge said.
Grimm said he didn't realize Nelson had called Sucre out.
"That happened so fast. I didn't realize the umpire had called him out at first," Grimm said. "... I was going over to cover the bag and Mitch took it on his own so when Elvis threw the ball it started to come toward me. I didn't think Mitch was going to be able to get to it and I just snagged it up real quick in hopes to save a run and keep the double play in order."
Some of the furor stopped when Brendan Ryan followed with a two-out RBI double to tie the game at 2 and was further muted by what the Rangers did against Saunders and Seattle's bullpen.
Still, the Rangers realized they got lucky.
"I didn't have to see the replay," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I knew we caught a break there."
Saunders' problems started when he walked Nelson Cruz on a 3-2 pitch in the second inning and gave up Baker's opposite-field homer two batters later to give Texas a 2-1 lead. He immediately faced problems in the third giving up a leadoff single to Jurickson Profar and a one-out double to Moreland. After striking out Berkman looking in the first inning, Saunders got just one pitch into the at-bat his next time up. Berkman drove the first pitch out to left to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead.
"Berkman kind of ambushed me there on a cutter inside," Saunders said. "I knew he was going to be aggressive there. He hit a good pitch, kept it fair and that seemed to be enough."
Grimm (4-3) overcame a rough first few innings to pitch into the seventh despite giving up 10 hits. Grimm avoided a big inning, didn't walk a batter and struck out five in beating the Mariners for the second time this season.
Notes: Seattle's been outscored 28-6 in the last three games. ... Texas announced after the game that Martin Perez will be called up to start the first game of Monday's day-night doubleheader at Arizona with Yu Darvish likely going in the nightcap. .... Raul Ibanez's had an RBI double in the third inning. It was the 400th double of his career. ... IF Carlos Triunfel was called up Friday but didn't arrive until midway through the game. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning. ... Sucre singled in the ninth for his first career hit.