The victory improved the Mariners’ record to 34-22 and salvaged a split of the four-game series with the worst team in the American League West.

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This time there was no need for a furious rally, there were no bullpen implosions and the late innings were drama free.

The Mariners did something that had been rare in the past few weeks — they beat a team by a comfortable margin.

Seattle got a solid if not lengthy start from left-hander Wade Le­Blanc, who has been dealing with flu-like issues the past few days. The offense provided plenty of run support, highlighted by Nelson Cruz’s two-run homer in the third inning to roll to a comfortable 6-1 victory Thursday over the Rangers at Safeco Field.


Tampa Bay @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

A night without having to come from behind or hanging on until the very last pitch? That’s so un-Mariners this season.

“Everybody needs some relief from that,” Cruz said.

Ah yes, relief. The Mariners got some help in that department from their bullpen. After getting beat up the previous two days, Seattle’s relievers returned to form. James Pazos, Juan Nicasio and Chasen Bradford worked the final four innings without allowing a run, while giving an extra day of rest to Alex Colome and closer Edwin Diaz.

The victory improved the Mariners’ record to 34-22, and salvaged a split of the four-game series with the worst team in the American League West.

The Mariners open a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Friday to close out the 10-game homestand.

Nice and easy, right?

“There are no easy wins in this league,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Our offense really did a nice job tonight. Just consistent pressure and it was really nice having Dee Gordon back too.”

Activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, Gordon made his presence felt immediately, tripling to left field to start the bottom of the first against Rangers starter Mike Minor. He scored moments later on Jean Segura’s sacrifice fly to right.

But this wasn’t an ordinary and boring sac fly. The ball was hit to shallow right field into a place where a normal base runner would never attempt to tag up and try to score. Heck, even a fast player probably wouldn’t consider it.

But Gordon?

He sprinted for home. Though Nomar Mazara’s throw from right field appeared to beat him by a few steps, Gordon made a nifty headfirst slide and avoided the tag of catcher Robinson Chirinos for the first run of the game.

The decision to go was being debated between Gordon and third-base coach Scott Brosius while Segura’s towering pop-up was in the air.

“So me and Bro were having a full-on conversation while it was in the air,” Gordon said. “I was like, ‘Bro, what should I do? What should I do?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ”

But Gordon saw that Mazara caught the ball casually.

“I didn’t tag right away,” Gordon said. “I was off the base and he kind of caught it flat-footed. So I went back and tapped it real quick and I was going to deke him, but then I was like, ‘He was flat-footed so maybe I might get in there.’ So I ran.”

And the slide?

“I saw a lot of the plate,” Gordon said. “If I wouldn’t have seen a lot of the plate, I would’ve slid feet first. I saw the plate and thought I might be in there really easy. But then he caught it and I was like, ‘Oh snap.’ But I could still see the plate so I tried to slide my hand in there really quick.”

Servais just shook his head at the speed, aggressiveness and athleticism.

“It was very shallow, but nothing surprises me with Dee Gordon when it comes to speed,” Servais said. “He wants to show everybody he’s the fastest man in the world I think. It was close.”

Gordon’s presence at the top of the lineup and his ability to create chaos and havoc on the bases was missed during his absence. His return is sure to help an offense that had scored four or more runs just three times in his nine-game absence.

The return to form of Cruz also will do wonders for an offense that is missing the suspended Robinson Cano more than people understand. Cruz’s homer was his third in his past six games. He finally looks to be healthy at the plate. There’s no more nagging foot pain or aching elbow.

“I feel healthy,” he said. “That’s the difference. It’s a matter of playing games and being out there and staying healthy. I’m healthy and the more games I play I feel the timing is better.”

How good is he feeling? Well, he said he would’ve done the same sprint for home as Gordon.

“Maybe me and him are the only ones that can do it,” he deadpanned.”

Perhaps it’s a function of how antiquated and misleading the win stat is because LeBlanc, now 1-0, has had much better statistical outings. But he was good enough to pitch five innings, allowing just one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts to earn his first victory.

“I felt good enough to go out there and keep us in the game,” he said. “I would have liked to have gone a little deeper, but I just kind of ran out of steam in the fifth. It started a couple of nights ago. I felt a little better today. I just haven’t been able to put any food in my body.”

LeBlanc shrugged off getting his first win.

“It’s cool to see a number in the column,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I think we are 5-1 in my games. I think that’s the more important stat.”