SEATTLE (AP) -- Terse and upset, John McLaren smacked the podium leaving his postgame gathering, realizing that another chance to reclaim ground in the playoff chase was wasted.
Horacio Ramirez was at the root of McLaren's displeasure.
Ramirez lasted just four batters, matching the second-shortest start in Mariners' history, and Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir stymied the Seattle offense in the Devil Rays' 6-2 win Saturday night.
Seattle failed to take advantage of New York's 10-1 defeat to Boston and remained 5 1/2 games back of the Yankees in the AL wild-card race, losing for the 16th time in its last 21 games.
Ramirez struggled from the outset, and McLaren never gave him a chance to correct his problems.
"We try and give our guys a chance to work their way out of it. We don't have that luxury anymore," McLaren said. "We're fighting an uphill battle here."
Asked what Ramirez's future would be in the rotation, McLaren became agitated.
"I'm not going there tonight. I'm emotionally upset. I'm not talking about anything else," he said, before quickly exiting.
While Ramirez couldn't get an out, Kazmir overpowered the Mariners for six dominant innings. The young lefty allowed just three hits, an unearned run, and struck out 11, his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the year. He struck out the side twice and improved to 4-0 in his last five starts.
"His fastball was exceptional. It was exploding right at the end," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "I've never seen him throw that hard that consistently."
Kazmir has 220 strikeouts this season, tied with Minnesota's Johan Santana and one behind Baltimore's Eric Bedard for the major league lead. He also picked up his 35th career win, tying him with Victor Zambrano for most in Tampa Bay history.
"If I start thinking about strikeouts, I probably won't get out of the third," Kazmir said.
Carl Crawford, who missed the first two games of the series while serving a suspension for arguing with an umpire, and Jonny Gomes had four hits apiece for the Devil Rays, who took a 4-0 lead in the first and coasted.
Not wanting to let the game get out of hand at the start, McLaren yanked Ramirez after 20 pitches and brought in Jorge Campillo, who gave up a two-run bloop single to Delmon Young and an RBI single to Gomes before getting out of the inning.
Frank MacCormick had the shortest outing in Mariners' history, lasting just three batters on May 5, 1977, Seattle's inaugural season. John Montague faced just four batters on June 30, 1979.
Ramirez, who lost his third straight decision, lasted just 1 2/3 innings on Monday against Oakland and has just one win since Aug. 9. Seattle has lost his last five starts.
Ramirez was still stunned three hours after he was yanked.
"I gave up three singles and walked a guy," Ramirez said. "I was stunned when there was a runner on first and second and I turned around and saw somebody warming up."
Tampa Bay added another run in the third on doubles by Young and Gomes, and Brendan Harris hit his 12th homer of the season off a radio station advertisement in left field leading off the fifth. Tampa Bay outhit Seattle 14-4.
Seattle capitalized on an error by Pean to get its only run off Kazmir. Jose Vidro singled with one-out in the fifth, then Yuniesky Betancourt's dribbler to first bounced through Pena's legs and into right field, advancing Vidro to third. Vidro scored on Adam Jones' infield groundout.
Kazmir struck out the side in the fourth and again in the sixth, around a pair of walks. He got Kenji Johjima swinging on a 3-2 pitch with two on to end the sixth.
Crawford stole his 50th base in the second inning without a throw from Johjima. It's the fourth time in his career Crawford has reached 50 steals. He was caught stealing in the fourth for the 10th time. ... Kazmir is 3-0 with a 1.11 ERA at Seattle.