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Mariners second walk-off homer of series dooms White Sox

Chicago White Sox pitcher Dan Jennings walks off the mound after giving up a solo walk-off home run to Seattle Mariners' Leonys Martin in the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Seattle. The Mariners beat the White Sox 6-5 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE – Adam Eaton only delayed the inevitable.

The White Sox right fielder, on his way to winning his first Gold Glove, threw out Nelson Cruz trying to score from first for the third out of the 10th inning, but all that did was set up the Seattle Mariners for a second walk-off homer of a series that dealt yet another blow to the Sox fleeting hopes of appearing like a playoff contender as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches.

The final blow Wednesday afternoon was from left-handed hitting Leonys Martin, who connected against left-hander Dan Jennings for his second homer of the game in the 11th inning at Safeco Field to send the Sox staggering home with a 6-5 loss. It was the their fifth defeat on a six-game road trip that began against the last-place Los Angeles Angels and their sixth loss in seven games.

After winning five straight series, the Sox have lost three in a row, including two to last-place teams. In the rubber game of this one, they led 4-0 and 5-2 with starter Miguel Gonzalez enjoying his fourth straight quality start but Adam Lind, the walk-off hero against David Robertson on Monday, tied it in the eighth against Nate Jones with an opposite field homer in the eighth. Mike Zunino also hit one of the Mariners’ four homers, a two-run shot against Zach Duke in the seventh.

“The home run was our friend early and it quickly became our enemy,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.

“It is tough, especially when you’re leading both of the ones late.’’

Jennings, who took over in the 10th after Robertson pitched a perfect ninth, felt the weight of it all as his teammates packed bags for a homestand that features the Detroit Tigers and Cubs.

“It’s not a good feeling letting the guys down like that,’’ Jennings said. “It’s truly on me.’’

On the deciding pitch, catcher Dioner Navarro called for a fastball but Jennings shook him off, wanting to throw a slider in the dirt. He left it up, and Navarro headed to the Sox dugout as soon as the ball left Martin’s bat.

“In the dirt he either takes it or swings through it. Obviously it wasn’t in the dirt,’’ Jenning said.

The Sox fell to 46-48 and the Mariners improved to 48-47.

“It’s a strange game, we easily could be 5-1 [on the trip] but we go home 1-5,’’ Navarro said. “Obviously it’s not the way we wanted to start the second half. We just have to keep grinding.’’

<em>Seattle Mariners’ Leonys Martin (12) is greeted at the plate by teammates after he hit a solo walk-off home run in the 11th inning of a baseball game to give the Mariners a 6-5 win over the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Seattle. (AP
Seattle Mariners’ Leonys Martin (12) is greeted at the plate by teammates after he hit a solo walk-off home run in the 11th inning of a baseball game to give the Mariners a 6-5 win over the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Eaton extended the game to the 11th with his fourth outfield assist. His 13 assists in the first half tied Alex Gordon (2011) for the second most in the majors in 2007 according to STATS.

Todd Frazier’s three-run homer in the first inning, his third in as many games in the series, made it 3-0 against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, making his first start since late May because of a strained calf. Frazier, who homered in three consecutive games for the first time in his career, had 28 this season to tie Mark Trumbo for the major league lead.

The Sox made it 4-0 when Tyler Saladino, who had three hits on his birthday on a day when Ventura gave rookie shortstop Tim Anderson his first day off, started a single-single-single barrage with two outs in the second. Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera (single, double, triple, RBI) followed.

Sox players and management have been pointing to their 23-10 start as evidence they are playoff material, but as Eaton said before the game, “we can talk about how well we were doing early in the season and this, this and this but it comes down to the players playing and doing our job and doing it with consistency.’’

“Our division isn’t going to get any easier especially with the trade deadline coming. Teams are only going to get better at the top. So we have to get going and have some urgency.’’