One month ago, competing for the American League West crown was a reality. 

Now, the wheels are coming off, and things couldn't be more different. 

In yet another disappointing performance at the plate, Seattle managed just one run off five hits as Texas completed the four-game sweep with a 3-1 win Sunday afternoon in front of 30,335 at Safeco Field.  

The hole just continues to get deeper for the Mariners, who extended their season-high losing skid to nine games. They haven't lost nine straight since a 12-game losing streak in 2008, when Seattle lost 101 games. 

"There were a few things I thought were a little bit better, but overall, a lot of the same," said manager Eric Wedge.

More of the same means more zeroes for the Mariners in the Safeco Field scoreboard. For the entire season, the bats have been less than stellar, but now nothing seems to be working at the plate, where Seattle is hitting an abysmal .186 in July. In the four losses to Texas, the Mariners scored just two runs.

"It's just so frustrating right now with the offense just not scoring runs," said catcher Josh Bard, who finished 1-for-3 with a double. "We've got to find a way. It's almost to the point of maddening."

The Rangers are most certainly not mad. Texas has won a season-high 11 consecutive games -- the club's third-longest winning streak -- and extended its division lead over Seattle to 11 1/2 games. The Rangers swept the Mariners in a four-game series for the first time since April 1992 and have won all their games at Safeco Field for the second straight year.

Wedge has repeated over the past few days that his club isn't a bad baseball team, but just lacks production at the plate. 

That was exactly the case Sunday afternoon. The victim of little run support this time was Blake Beavan, who went 6 2/3 innings. He gave up a three-run moonshot to Mitch Moreland in the second inning but retired 11 straight batters at one point after that.

Beavan, a Texas native who was a 2007 first-round Draft pick of the Rangers, threw 104 pitches (66 strikes), gave up three runs and fell to 1-1 on the season. 

"What those guys do best is hitting balls over the plate, so I just tried to stay down and make quality pitches and try to get a ground ball," said Beavan, who added that it was fun to face "one of the best lineups in baseball" and some of the players he grew up playing in the Minor Leagues with.

The Mariners put a runner past second base just once. The lone run came in the eighth after Jack Wilson's single drove home Bard. 

As simple as it was, Wilson said that how the eighth inning went down -- Bard with a leadoff double, Chone Figgins moving him over to third and Wilson stroking a single -- is exactly what Seattle needs more of.

"When we did score, it was the first time we got a leadoff guy on, then Figgy did an awesome job getting the guy over, then we got him in -- that's stuff we need to do, and it was the first time in a while that we've been able to do that," said Wilson, who played for the first time since July 2.

"We've got to be willing to take some chances," Bard said. "It seems like teams are doing the same things over and over and over again, and we haven't done a good job of making the adjustments. We've got to be able to do that.

"We've got good enough players here to produce, and Wedge has stood behind us. He's the biggest advocate of taking a chance, and we've got to follow his lead in doing that. He's giving us every opportunity, and it's time for us to start playing better. That's all it comes down to."

Seattle's lack of offense made Texas starter Matt Harrison look like an All-Star. The lefty went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just five hits and one run while improving to 8-7 on the year. 

"We came out playing well," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "We did what we had to do. Mitch Moreland got us the three-run home run, and it was pitching after that."

Meanwhile, the Mariners' numbers just keep getting worse. On this nine-game skid, they are hitting just .179 (52-for-290) and are averaging a mere 1.2 runs per game. The Mariners haven't scored more than two runs in an inning since a three-run third on July 1 against San Diego.

Now, Seattle will try to stop the skid on a nine-game, three-city swing beginning Tuesday in Toronto.

"The best part about this game is there's always another game the next day," Wilson said. "Seven o'clock in Toronto can't come fast enough for guys to get back in the box."

{seattlemariners.com}