Hamels navigates traffic in return to mound

Lefty fans 8 over 7 innings after skipping start

Hamels navigates traffic in return to mound

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers won their first game with Cole Hamels on the mound.

Hamels didn't get the win because he couldn't hold a couple of leads through the middle innings. But he was also able to navigate through what manager Jeff Banister calls "traffic" and keep the Mariners from getting a lead of their own.

By doing that, Hamels kept his team in position to pull off its ninth-inning heroics and a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Mariners on Monday night.

"That's the mark of a veteran pitcher ... a true mark of a guy who knows how to pitch," Banister said. "A couple of balls got up in the zone and got hit for basehits. But after coming back from his groin issue, to do what he did to limit the damage, he kept the game in a spot where we could do what we did. That was really a solid job."

Hamels was making his first start since Aug. 7, also against the Mariners. He skipped a start because of a sore left groin muscle, but physically he felt good while allowing three runs in seven innings. He allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out eight on 100 pitches.

"It felt good just to go out there and be confident I can go up to 100 pitches and do it successfully," Hamels said. "My legs felt surprisingly fresh, as they should be. I was able to make quality pitches, something I haven't been able to do the last couple of weeks."

The four walks hurt. So did allowing the leadoff batter to reach base in four of seven innings, and three of them ended up scoring.

"Going into those innings, I wanted to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters," Hamels said. "In doing so I was missing in the middle of the plate."

Hamels had a 2-0 lead going into the top of the fourth, but walked both Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz to start the inning. After Robinson Cano struck out, Franklin Gutierrez drove home a run with a double. Hamels escaped further damage by striking Austin Jackson and getting Mark Trumbo on a groundout.

But the Mariners tied it in the fifth on leadoff singles by Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino from the bottom of the order and a one-out single by Seager. Hamels had a 3-2 lead into the seventh, but started the inning by giving up a single to Trumbo and a walk to Morrison.

Zunino bunted the runners to second and third, and Ketel Marte singled to right to tie the game. With runners at the corners, Seager lined out to right and right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo threw out Morrison trying to score. It was his last batter.

"No matter what I'm going through out there, I have to put zeros on the board, make quality pitches and work quickly to keep my defense in the game," Hamels said. "I was able to do that part of the game and I made it tough for part of the game. I have to work on that."

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