CLEVELAND – Seattle Mariners closer Brandon League has been a very reliable reliever throughout his nine-year career.
When he faces the Cleveland Indians, however, things typically do not end on a positive note.
League allowed the game-tying single to Asdrubal Cabrera and the winning hit to Carlos Santana in the 11th inning on Thursday, allowing the Indians to rally for a 6-5 victory over the Mariners.
Seattle had taken a one-run lead in the top of the 11th on Michael Saunders' RBI double, but League (0-3) squandered it by walking three batters, throwing a wild pitch and allowing two hits in just one-third of an inning.
"We gave them that game," Mariners manager Eric Wedge fumed. "Walks killed us early and walks killed us late. I liked the way we battled back after they tied the score the first time, but then we blew it again."
It marked League's third blown save — and third walk-off loss — at Progressive Field in the last two seasons. In his career against Cleveland, the right-hander is 2-5 with a 9.18 ERA and seven blown saves in nine chances.
"The guys were pretty confident since we had done it before against him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Everyone in the dugout said, 'Let's get two, we can do it.' "
"I'm not sure what happened, but Brandon didn't look like himself the whole inning," Wedge said.
Cabrera's one-out single scored Jose Lopez, while Santana's liner up the middle came two batters later and brought Jason Kipnis home from third base.
"My control was just absolutely unacceptable today," said League, who has converted 45 of 53 total save opportunities since the start of 2011. "I was issuing free passes, and when I did get the ball over the plate, it was right down the middle."
Seattle is 1-6 on its current 10-game, 10-day road trip and has played a major-league high 25 away games. The Mariners travel to Colorado for a three-game set beginning Friday.
Joe Smith (4-1), the seventh Cleveland pitcher of the day, earned the victory despite allowing Saunders' go-ahead shot off the wall in left-center that scored Dustin Ackley. The right-hander went one inning and was the lone Indians reliever to give up a run in 5 1-3 combined innings.
Seattle's bullpen, meanwhile, was torched for five runs, five hits and five walks to waste a fine performance by starter Hector Noesi. The 25-year-old righty went 6 1-3 innings, allowing one run on five hits while walking three and striking out five.
Noesi exited the game with a 4-0 lead and one out in the seventh, but was powerless to stop the Mariners from losing their fourth straight game and falling to 1-12 in their last 13 road contests.
"Noesi was fantastic today," Wedge said. "I was really pleased with the way he pitched, and I think he's gaining a whole lot of confidence each time out."
The Indians cut their deficit to 4-1 in the seventh when Cabrera singled off Seattle reliever Lucas Luetge with two outs, plating Casey Kotchman, who had singled off Noesi.
Former Mariners third baseman Lopez then tied the score in the eighth with a three-run homer off Steve Delabar. The 348-foot shot, which barely cleared the left-field wall, was Lopez's second of the season and came with two outs.
"The ball got up and he put some wood on it," said Delabar, who walked Santana to open the inning and gave up a double to Kotchman. "You never want to put anybody on for free, but that's what I did to start things for them."
Seattle had taken a 2-0 lead with single runs in the third and fifth, both without the benefit of a hit.
Saunders' RBI groundout scored Brendan Ryan in the third, while John Jaso came around on a passed ball committed by Santana in the fifth.
Ryan, who entered the contest hitting .137 and in a 5-for-56 slump, went 2-for-3 with two walks. Justin Smoak also had two hits for the Mariners, whose 16-24 record is the second worst in the American League.
Seattle went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, making it 8-for-96 in its last 13 road games.
"It gets old being a young team having growing pains," Ryan said. "At some point, we have to figure out how to close out games. Good teams step on your throat when they get ahead. We need to learn how to do that."
Seattle extended its advantage to 4-0 with two runs in the sixth, knocking Indians starter Zach McAllister out of the game after 5 2-3 innings. Jaso doubled home Kyle Seager, then scored on Ryan's RBI single off reliever Jairo Asencio.
McAllister, a right-hander, gave up four runs (three earned) and five walks while striking out six.
NOTES: OF Mike Carp, who was a late scratch Wednesday with a stiff right shoulder, started at DH and was hitless in two at-bats. He sprained the shoulder in the season opener in Japan and spent four weeks on the DL. ... C Jesus Montero, who committed a costly throwing error Wednesday, didn't start, but pinch-hit for Carp in the eighth. ... The Mariners complete their road trip with three games in Colorado. RHP Kevin Millwood faces RHP Alex White on Friday. ... Alex Liddi made his first major league start in left field. Normally a third baseman, he made his initial big league appearance in the outfield Wednesday in the ninth inning. ... Indians OF Johnny Damon singled in the fourth for his 2,732nd career hit, tying him with Tony Perez for 55th place on the all-time list.