Happ handles Rangers' offense to take series

Happ handles Rangers' offense to take series

ARLINGTON -- J.A. Happ became the latest pitcher to shut down the Rangers on Tuesday night, allowing a run in 6 2/3 innings as the Mariners made it two straight wins at Globe Life Park with a 2-1 victory.

Happ dominated the Rangers, finishing with nine strikeouts, matching his total in his first three starts. Happ had a stretch where he struck out Elvis Andrus with a runner at second to the end the third, recorded all three of his outs in the fourth on strikeouts, and then struck out the side, in order, in the fifth.

"Confidence is a huge thing and just being aggressive with whatever pitch you're going to throw," said Happ, who improved to 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA. "I got in a pretty good groove there where I felt like I was locating my fastball and that was huge, just throwing pitches off that."

Rangers starter Ross Detwiler bounced back after allowing five earned runs in each of his first three starts. The left-hander allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Detwiler's only hiccup came in the fourth when he allowed an RBI groundout by Kyle Seager and a 391-foot home run to Rickie Weeks.

The Rangers had their best chance to rally down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth. But with Andrus on first and the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters up, Prince Fielder lined out to center, Adrian Beltre skied out to left field and Robinson Chirinos grounded out. Andrus was running on a 1-0 pitch and appeared to have second base stolen when Beltre just missed a fastball. Beltre is batting .200 with only two RBIs in 20 games.

"If he's going to get out, we want him to get out aggressively," Andrus said. "He put a good swing on it. He just missed it. It's just a matter of time before he gets hot."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mariners flex in the fourth: After being shut out for three frames by Detwiler, Seattle muscled up the next inning when Nelson Cruz launched an opposite-field triple over the head of right fielder Jake Smolinski and scored on Seager's grounder to second. Weeks then ripped his second homer of the year and 150th of his career on a 1-2 pitch. Weeks, starting his second straight game in left field, went 2-for-3 to lift his average to .211.

Weeks' solo shot

Detwiler makes improvements: Detwiler made his first start in nine days after skipping a turn through the Rangers' rotation, and the break to work on his mechanics seemed to work out. Detwiler worked his way out of a first-and-third jam with one out in the second inning, striking out Logan Morrison, and after walking Brad Miller to load the bases, the left-hander induced a flyout to left by Mike Zunino. Detwiler did allow two runs in the fourth after Smolinski misplayed Cruz's high fly ball into a triple. Cruz scored on Seager's groundout and Weeks followed with a long home run.

"It was a stupid pitch [to Weeks]," Detwiler said. "I made my pitch before that and he didn't swing at the curveball down and away. He laid off." More >

J.A. adds some K's: Happ continued to impress for the Mariners with his fourth strong start since being acquired from the Blue Jays . The 32-year-old southpaw held Texas to one run in 6 2/3 innings and his season-high nine strikeouts included three in a critical fourth inning. With two on and two out in that frame, Happ caught Adam Rosales looking on a full-count fastball on the outside corner to preserve a 2-0 lead.

"I was falling off toward third base a few times, but I was able to stay toward [catcher Zunino] on that pitch and locate a fastball down and away," said Happ. "That's what we were trying to do there. It was a huge pitch." More >

DeShields' RBI double

DeShields delivers: The Rangers got their first run from an unlikely source -- 25th man Delino DeShields. The last player to make the Opening Day roster, partially because of his Rule 5 Draft pick status, DeShields snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to trim the Mariners' lead to 2-1. DeShields raised his batting average to .143 with his gapper to left-center field.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz doubled and tripled in the same game for just the second time in his career in a 3-for-4 day for Seattle. The other time he pulled that off was in 2009 for the Rangers when he came up a single shy of the cycle in a game at Fenway Park. It was the 11th triple of Cruz's 11-year career. This time he was a long ball short of his first cycle, something of an irony for the Major League home run leader.

Fielder and Beltre, the heart of the Rangers' batting order, have combined to hit three home runs in 20 games. Beltre has two long balls, both solo shots. The Rangers as a team have 13 homers.

QUOTABLE

"He's been throwing extremely well for quite a while. The ball has been coming out real good. I've been really impressed. I think right now he's probably throwing better than he did last year." -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, on closer Fernando Rodney after he notched his sixth save with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth

Rodney earns the save

"We had a couple of called third strikes in key situations with guys on base. We had some RBI chances. Our two-strike approach could have been better." -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister, on his teams' 11-strikeout night

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Felix Hernandez faces Texas for the second time in 12 days as the two AL West rivals close out a three-game series at Globe Life Park. Hernandez is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA, including a 3-1 win over the Rangers on April 18 when he gave up just two hits and one run in seven frames. He's coming off his first complete game and shutout since 2012 after holding the Twins to five hits in a 2-0 win last Friday.

Rangers: Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who signed to a Minor League contract on April 6, will make his second start for the Rangers on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 10.61 ERA in his two career starts in Arlington. He allowed one run in five innings in his first start Friday against the Angels.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.