For the attention Seattle has received this season for its power surge, it's the inability to score runs through more traditional methods that has led to the Mariners' slow start to the second half of the season.
The Mariners again failed in two key situations with runners in scoring position on Tuesday night, stumbling to a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox despite Robinson Cano's 22nd home run of the season.
While Cano was responsible for all of Seattle's offense, he was also guilty of being unable to come through with a clutch two-out hit, striking out with runners on the corners in the fifth inning and the game tied 1-1.
"Do a better job with men in scoring position, I guess," Cano said. "Lately, we're only scoring with homers, we haven't gotten lately a hit to get an RBI."
Seattle needed an unlikely three-run homer from Adam Lind to win the opener of the series with the White Sox and Cano's shot off Chicago starter Jose Quintana in the fourth inning pulled the Mariners even at 1-1.
But Quintana got the better of Cano an inning later in a key situation and also worked out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth. Quintana gave up a leadoff single to Nelson Cruz and loaded the bases after a walk to Chris Iannetta and hitting Leonys Martin on the elbow with two outs in the sixth. Quintana fell behind to Daniel Robertson, but got the young outfielder to fly out to center to end the threat.
"A couple of innings I was in trouble, but I tried to make (the) critical pitch and get out of trouble," Quintana said.
Quintana (8-8) allowed six hits in six innings and struck out seven. He's won his last three starts after going 0-7 over a span of nine starts from the middle of May until the end of June.
"He's good. He moves the ball well around the plate — he's on the edges," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "His stuff was good. We had some chances, but we just couldn't get the big two-out hit."
Seattle got a solid performance from Wade Miley, but the lefty lost his fifth straight start, his last win coming on June 7. It was a better performance than his last start before the All-Star break where Miley (6-7) allowed 10 hits and four runs against Kansas City.
Melky Cabrera snapped the 1-1 tie with a solo home run leading off the seventh and J.B. Shuck added an RBI single later in the inning off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Miley gave up three runs and struck out four, also giving up Brett Lawrie's solo home run in the second inning.
"Definitely felt a whole lot better, a lot more comfortable. Felt like I was more in rhythm," Miley said. "It was really two mistakes. Both of them got hit in the seats. Two hanging curveballs, just got to get those pitches down. For the most part I felt like I threw the ball well. That's it, two mistakes."
Joaquin Benoit took over in the ninth with Seattle trailing 3-1, but quickly saw Chicago's lead expand. Benoit walked the leadoff hitter then gave up a two-run homer to Todd Frazier, his 27th. Benoit was charged with three runs and recorded just two outs, and believes his issue is mechanical in his delivery.
"Mechanics get you to walk people and to give up long balls. It's something that I have to work on. Hopefully when I get into the meaningful games, those things don't happen," he said.
White Sox: C Alex Avila (hamstring) has started his rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte. Avila was 1 for 2 with a double on Tuesday.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte was out of the lineup for the second straight day with illness. Servais was hopeful Marte would be able to get back in the lineup on Wednesday.
White Sox: Miguel Gonzalez (2-5) makes his 14th start of the season. Gonzalez is just 1-2 over his last three starts but has a 2.25 ERA during that time.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (4-4) makes his first start since May 27 after landing on the DL with a calf injury. Hernandez had two rehab starts in the minors before returning to the rotation.