PHILADELPHIA -- It was unclear just exactly what the Citizens Bank Park crowd was trying to say.
The "oooo" sound permeating through the ballpark in the top of the seventh inning seemed to have a dual meaning. It was certainly some parts booing, as the Philadelphia Phillies' faithful was watching its team self-destruct at the hands of the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon, the bullpen once again letting the team down.
But the decisive hit came off the bat of a player that many had come to respect and pay homage. That man was Seattle's Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz, the former longtime Phillie who had returned to the city that embraced him as the franchise's starting catcher for an entire decade.
So as Ruiz stood there at second base, having just delivered a three-run double that broke open an 11-6 Mariners win, it was a strange moment indeed -- though the Phillies' fans who were standing and applauding gave some indication which way they were leaning.
At 38 years old, Ruiz might have been making his final appearance at the ballpark he called home for so long.
"I try not to think about that, you never know where you're going to be the next day," Ruiz said. "I tried to enjoy these two games here and I don't know what's going to happen after this year, but that was really special to come to Philadelphia and get the ovation the fans gave to me."
It was a fitting moment for Ruiz, who played in 1,069 games in a Phillies uniform, spending 18 years overall with the franchise. Now at the tail end of his career, the start Ruiz received on Wednesday was his 11th of the season and his 14th appearance overall, and his 1-for-4 outing only raised his batting average to .129.
"Really happy for him," Mariners skipper Scott Servais said. "Awesome dude, he's fit in great with our guys ... nice to see him get a big hit, he's been struggling with the bat in limited opportunities that he's got, so really, really happy for him, good day for Chooch."
The win leaves Seattle (17-17) at .500 for the first time this season. The Mariners opened the year losing three straight and six of their first seven but are 16-11 since, including victories in now four straight games.
Relief pitcher Tony Zych (2-0, 2.00 ERA) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless sixth. Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo received a no-decision after giving up three earned runs in five innings.
Led by veteran second baseman Robinson Cano (4-for-5, homer, three RBIs) and rookie outfielder Ben Gamel (2-for-4, two walks, two runs scored), the Mariners' offense collected 16 hits for the second game in a row.
"The quality of our at-bats have been really good for the last week or so," Servais said. "Coming in here, I thought we would score some runs -- I didn't realize (Citizens Bank Park) would play as small as it does."
Since a callup in late April, Gamel is hitting .373 (19-for- 51) with 14 runs scored, with multi-hit outings in seven of his 13 games played.
The Phillies (13-19) lost for the seventh time in eight games. Since ripping off six consecutive wins to improve to 11-9 on April 27, they are just 2-10, averaging 4.5 runs/game over that time.
It was Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit (0-2, 5.79) who took the loss, giving up five earned runs while recording just one out in relief of Zach Eflin as his ERA rocketed up from 2.63. As a unit, the Phillies' bullpen gave up eight runs on seven hits and six walks in three innings of what had been a 3-3 ballgame before that decisive top of the seventh.
"I'm not happy about our situation, but a lot of teams are having problems with their bullpen," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "A lot of teams are scuffling. It'll come around. I still believe in these relief pitchers. We need starts to give us more innings."
A two-run homer by Cano put Seattle up 3-0 in the top of the third inning. The Phillies equalized in the bottom of that frame on one swing off the bat of left fielder Aaron Altherr.
Altherr's homer gave him a three-run homer in each of the last three games, making him the first Phillie since Mike Schmidt in 1981 to accomplish the feat. He also added a solo shot in the ninth inning, his seventh of the year, as did first baseman Tommy Joseph.
"How about this guy," Mackanin said of Altherr. "He's relentless. He's swinging the ball as well as I've seen a guy swing."
Eflin managed to limit the damage after the third inning, departing after six innings and 106 pitches, giving up three runs (all earned) on nine hits while striking out five.
His first five starts of 2017 have certainly gone better than his rookie season last year, which saw Eflin at 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA in large part due to a debut where he gave up nine runs (eight earned) in just 2 2/3 innings of work.
"I didn't have my best stuff," Eflin said, "but I was able to battle."
NOTES: Seattle won the opener of the two-gamer series, 10-9 on Tuesday night, behind 16 hits and five walks. ... Before the game, the Mariners placed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma on the 10-day DL (right shoulder inflammation) retroactive to May 7 and transferred RHP Evan Marshall (straight right hamstring) from the 10-day to the 60-day DL to make room for RHP Sam Gaviglio, called up from Triple-A Tacoma. ... After the game, the Phillies optioned reliever Jake Thompson to Lehigh Valley. ... The Phillies have Thursday off before going to Washington for three games, while the Mariners begin a four-game series in Toronto on Thursday.