Zunino knocks two homers to back solid Elias

Southpaw strikes out four over four innings against Rangers

Zunino knocks two homers to back solid Elias

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Zunino, getting a start at designated hitter, had two home runs for the Mariners in Friday afternoon's 4-4 tie against the Rangers. He had a solo shot off Jon Edwards in the fourth inning and a two-run home run off Spencer Patton in the sixth. He was 2-for-3 in the game and is 8-for-23 this spring.

Zunino is the Mariners' starting catcher, but was used at DH so that Nelson Cruz could start in right field.

"We'll let him do the DHing," Zunino said. "But it's always nice to just be able to get some more at-bats and just focus on that. I was able to do that. I'm just trying to get myself in a position to hit every at-bat, every pitch, and I was able work on that today."

Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, who had been sidelined with a sore left shoulder, made his first start of the Cactus League and pitched three scoreless innings on just 33 pitches.

"I was antsy to get out there and pitch," Holland said. "I was on fuego, I was going 100 miles per hour trying to get out there."

Holland likely has three starts before the season starts. That should be good enough to get his pitch count up to 75-80 pitches.

"I need to continue to improve every time out," Holland said. "Get the off-speed where it needs to be. Other than that, I'm happy. My strength is great, my conditioning is great. I just need to get my off-speed in order."

Mariners starter Roenis Elias went four innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts.

The Rangers trailed 3-2 into the seventh before Mitch Moreland hit a two-run home run. The home run came off Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. The Mariners tied it up in the top of the eighth on a home run by Alex Jackson, the Mariners' 19-year-old first-round pick from 2014 out of Rancho Bernardo (Ca.) High.

Up next for Mariners: Mariners ace Felix Hernandez makes his second Cactus League start Saturday against the Cubs in Mesa as he continues gearing up for Seattle's Opening Day on April 6. Hernandez has pitched just once -- two scoreless innings with no hits and one walk against the Rockies -- in an official game, but threw 3 1/3 innings in a Minor League intrasquad game on March 15. He'll likely go about four frames against the Cubs in the 1:05 p.m. PT start, which will be live on 710 ESPN Seattle and Gameday Audio. Closer Fernando Rodney and surprising young lefty reliever Tyler Olson are also scheduled to pitch.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.