ARLINGTON -- The Mariners brought the Rangers' five-game winning streak to an end with a 3-1 victory on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series. The Rangers, however, maintained their 2 1/2-game lead in the American League West race, as the Astros lost to the A's in Houston.
Texas (79-68) is 12-4 against second-place Houston this season, but just 6-11 against fourth-place Seattle (72-76). The Rangers have lost three straight to the Mariners while scoring just one run in their last 27 innings against them. Seattle has won 11 of its last 16 games.
"I didn't see any letdown," manager Jeff Banister said. "The opposing pitcher did his job holding us down. But this was not a situation where there was a letdown. Their guys made quality pitches and we didn't put the ball in play and drive in runs."
Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo (12-11) allowed three runs in the second inning and has lost two straight starts. The Mariners used six pitchers to hold the Rangers to one run on six hits, as reliever Danny Farquhar (1-4) earned the win in relief of starter James Paxton.
"I think we are trending the way we are because of our offense and bullpen," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "Particularly the back end of our bullpen has been outstanding. They pretty much shut things down."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Double trouble: Mariners center fielder Brad Miller hugged a double down the left-field line off Gallardo to put runners on second and third in the second inning, and shortstop Ketel Marte followed with a grounder that barely stayed fair over the third-base bag for a two-run double that gave Seattle an early lead. The play also led to the ejection of Banister, who came out to argue the non-reviewable fair call. When Kyle Seager followed with a bloop RBI single to left, the Mariners had a 3-0 edge.
Napoli can't deliver: The Rangers, still trailing 3-0, scored their first run when Prince Fielder drew a bases-loaded walk off Paxton with one out in the fifth inning. That brought up Mike Napoli and McClendon responded with Farquhar. Napoli fell behind 0-2 in the count before grounding into an inning-ending double play.
"He has been swinging the bat well," Banister said. "He has been barrelling the baseball and driving the baseball. He is a professional hitter who gives you professional at-bats."
Review proves critical: A potential Rangers rally was dealt a blow in the eighth when the Mariners were successful in getting a call overturned at third base. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Adrian Beltre tried to advance on a wild pitch by reliever Carson Smith. Beltre was ruled safe, but McClendon challenged, believing Beltre came off the bag while Seager still had the tag applied following the throw from catcher Jesus Sucre. After a three-minute, eight-second review, the call was overturned and Beltre was the first out of the inning.
"Sucre put the throw right on the money," said Seager. "It was pretty much as I caught it, I was touching him. So I didn't know if maybe when he slid, he popped up a little. I didn't actually know that he'd come off." More >
Bullpen beefs up: A Mariners bullpen that appeared to be in shambles in August has turned things around in the final month of the season. After coming in with the lowest September ERA in baseball at 1.46, Seattle's relief crew shut down the Rangers in the final 4 2/3 frames on Friday. In addition to escaping Paxton's bases-loaded jam in the fifth, Farquhar added a perfect sixth. Logan Kensing, another late-season callup, got two outs in the seventh before Roenis Elias, getting some work before making his next start Wednesday, came back from a 3-0 count to strike out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning. Smith delivered a scoreless eighth before Tom Wilhelmsen came on for his 12th straight save.
"Yeah, it's always fun to win, no matter what," said Wilhelmsen. "That's what we all want to do. That's what we've been trying to do the whole time. It just hasn't happened as early as we'd like, but we can't dwell on that. We just have to go out and do what we do and believe in ourselves."
"He played well tonight. He [fielded] some tough hops, stayed with them. Then he tripped over his shoestrings on the double play [by Napoli]. Youngsters energize you and give you headaches. That's just the way it is." -- McClendon on rookie shortstop Marte
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The Mariners' Robinson Cano, who singled in the first inning, needs six more hits in the final 14 games to become the 14th player in MLB history to record 2,000 hits in his first 11 seasons.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Southpaw Vidal Nuno (1-2, 3.21 ERA) makes his second straight start against the Rangers in Saturday's 5:05 p.m. PT game at Globe Life Park. Nuno held Texas to one hit in seven scoreless innings on Sept. 9 at Safeco Field, snapping his streak of 20 straight starts without a win.
Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels (9-8, 3.76) pitches for the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. Hamels is 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in his last six starts and the Rangers have won all of them. He is 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this season.