The victory snapped a four-game losing streak by the Mariners, who had lost six of their previous seven. Miguel Olivo broke open a one-run game with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his 12th of the season, while Justin Smoak had three hits and scored twice. The Mariners have homered in 11 straight games.
The scuffling Mariners got their first break on Friday when two Rangers stalwarts, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, were out of the lineup because of illness.
“They look different,” admitted Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez. “This is baseball and you have to play no matter who is in the lineup, but obviously, those guys make a lot of difference on that team.”
That’s 76 home runs’ worth of missing firepower, not to mention Beltre’s peerless glove at third. The Mariners made the most of the omissions — and finally got an elusive hit with runners in scoring position — while defeating the Rangers, 6-3, in front of a Fan Appreciation Night crowd of 17,893.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak by the Mariners, who had lost six of their previous seven. Miguel Olivo broke open a one-run game with a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his 12th of the season, while Justin Smoak had three hits and scored twice. The Mariners have now homered in 11 straight games.
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“We’re definitely better offensively; the biggest (key) is finishing off innings,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We did a better job of that tonight. We still had other opportunities we could have done even more with.”
When Casper Wells doubled home Smoak from second base for the Mariners’ first run in the second inning, it snapped a streak of 23 hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position by the Mariners, dating to Monday.
They would wind up 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position Friday, but it was still a relief to break that particular streak.
“To get that momentum early was definitely huge,” Wells said. “We had some battles against the Orioles, long battles. It was good to see us come through and get runs and have the pitching shut the door like they’ve done time after time this season.”
Smoak had led off the inning with a double off Texas starter Martin Perez, their first hit off Perez in 18 at-bats over three appearances.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who entered with an 0-2 record and 6.08 earned-run average against the Rangers, worked seven strong innings for the victory. Iwakuma, 7-5, gave up eight hits but didn’t walk any, striking out four.
Stephen Pryor worked a scoreless eighth before Tom Wilhelmsen finished up for his 28th save. The first two Texas batters in the ninth reached before the Mariners turned their third double play. Wilhelmsen struck out Mitch Moreland to end it.
Carlos Triunfel, making his first career start at shortstop, made good use of his chance. With the score tied at 2 in the fourth, he drove in the go-ahead run with a double down the third-base line that brought in Wells from first base. Triunfel later scored on an error by third baseman Michael Young, playing the position in place of Beltre.
Triunfel also made a nice play in the field on a ball in the hole, and displayed a cannon arm on several plays.
“Carlos played a good game,” Wedge said.
Said Triunfel: “I felt very good, thanks to God. Now I’m confident, and I’m glad I played well … all the nerves are gone.”
The Mariners moved ahead 2-0 in the third on a leadoff triple off the center-field wall by Gutierrez, who scored on a wild pitch by Perez. Gutierrez later flew out to deep center.
“I don’t know why I always hit it to the deepest part of the ballpark,” Gutierrerz said. “I was feeling good today, seeing the ball well, and I put a good swing. It was very important to score runs today against Texas. We know what kind of team they are, really good.”
Just as important was tacking on two in the eighth with Olivo’s homer on a 3-2 slider from Alexi Ogandi, stretching a one-run lead to three.
“Any home run or any run you bring in is important, but especially against that team,” Olivo said.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com