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May 13, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Rays 2, Mariners 1 — Fernando Rodney blows second save

Mariners closer Fernando Rodney is pulled in the ninth inning after giving up two runs in relief against Tampa. Rodney would take the 2-1 loss. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

Mariners closer Fernando Rodney is pulled in the ninth inning after giving up two runs in relief against Tampa. Rodney would take the 2-1 loss. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

If Fernando Rodney is needed against the Rays in Wednesday’s series finale, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon says he won’t hesitate to call on his closer again.

“This is something I certainly don’t think I should have to defend,” McClendon said after the Mariners’ 2-1 loss Tuesday night, which wasted another masterful outing from Hisashi Iwakuma. “First off all, ‘Kuma is on his third start of the year with no spring training and (97) pitches. And I’ll answer it this time: Yes, ‘Kuma was out of gas, but I’m not going to defend that all year. … I’ve got one of the best closers in the game, and this guy’s going to save a bunch of games for us. It just didn’t go his way tonight. That’s baseball. It happens.

“And I know everybody’s upset. I’m upset. They ought to boo me, I’m upset to. But that’s the way it goes. We’ll pick up the pieces tomorrow.”

Rodney blew his second save of the season, in his 13th attempt. He entered the day tied for the AL lead with 11 saves, for what it’s worth.

He said facing his former team didn’t have him more amped up than usual.

“No, no, no,” he said. “I’m the same person. I didn’t try to do nothing different. I think I made good pitches. I missed one, which tied the game.”

Rodney left the 2-2 changeup he threw to David DeJesus up in the zone. DeJesus hit it about eight rows deep to right for the Rays’ first run. Matt Joyce‘s bloop single later scored the game-winning run.

Fans booed Rodney after he was pulled with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth.

“I understand that part. When the fans boo, they get mad because they want to win, and that’s why they bring the closer in, to close the game,” Rodney said. “But that didn’t happen tonight. I hope to come back ready for tomorrow.”

Hisashi Iwakuma was brilliant again, and he certainly deserved the win in this one. He scattered four hits, with five strikeouts and no walks. He has a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings, 24 scoreless in a row at home, and he hasn’t walked a batter in 19 innings.

“I thought I pitched well,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “The ball came out of my hand pretty good. They bounced me around a couple times early in the game, but the third, fourth hitting I was able to get in a groove, and from there I was able to take off. I pitched deep in the game and I think I did my part.”

David Price (4-3), the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, allowed only a first-inning run in complete-game effort, striking out 12 in his first start in Seattle. Eight of those strikeouts were called looking, and the Mariners were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

“It was definitely a tough one,” Kyle Seager said. ” … We obviously could’ve used a couple more hits there, but he beared down when he needed to. He didn’t really give him. He’s obviously got really good stuff, so it makes for a really difficult combination.”

The series finale is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, and McClendon said he wouldn’t hesitate to call on Rodney again if needed.

“If we have a save situation tomorrow, he’ll be right back out there, I can tell you that,” he said.

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