ARLINGTON -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus hit a three-run homer and scored three times as the Rangers opened a two-game lead over the Mariners atop the American League West and handed Seattle its first road series loss of the season with a 10-4 win Saturday night at Globe Life Park.
"It's always nice for our guys to give our pitcher, the starter, a lead," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "If we can continue to build on that lead, it allows them to settle in, try to throw more strikes."
Texas (33-22) has won 11 of its last 14 games and beat the Mariners for a second straight night as lefty Martin Perez threw six innings of three-run ball, rookie Nomar Mazara launched his 10th homer of the season and Rougned Odor picked up a pair of hits and scored twice in his first game back after a seven-game suspension.
Nelson Cruz hit his 12th homer of the year for Seattle, but right-hander Nathan Karns saw his five-game win streak snapped as he surrendered season highs for runs (seven) and walks (five) in four-plus innings, falling to 5-2 with a 4.23 ERA. Seattle has lost six of its last nine and its pitching staff has allowed 44 runs in the past four games.
"We're in one of those stretches," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "It does happen throughout the course of the year. I believe in our guys, they've proven what they can do at this level and have done it for a couple months. We'll get through it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rangers strike first: For the second straight night, the Rangers scored three runs in the first inning. Jurickson Profar started things with a double past the dive of Mariners center fielder Shawn O'Malley. After a bunt single from Ian Desmond, Mazara drove in Profar with a sacrifice fly to left field. Two batters later, Ryan Rua hit a two-run double down the left-field line to give the Rangers the early edge.
"It's been huge to be able to do that the past two games and keep tacking them on to give them a little bit of breathing room," Rua said. "It helps [the pitchers] out a lot."
Another Cruz connection: Cruz seems to enjoy tormenting his former Rangers team and he did it again with a solo blast in the third off Perez, driving an 0-1 curve over the center-field fence on a shot projected at 427 feet away by Statcast™. Cruz added an RBI groundout in the seventh in a 1-for-5 night. Since signing with Seattle last year, he has hit .333 (31-for-93) with nine homers and 18 RBIs in 24 games against Texas.
Andrus adds insurance: With the Rangers leading in the fifth inning, 5-3, Andrus deposited a 2-1 slider from Mariners left-hander Vidal Nuno into the left-field seats to give his team a 9-3 lead. It was his second homer of the season and traveled an projected 383 feet, per Statcast™. Mitch Moreland had preceded the home run with an RBI single. Andrus ended the night 2-for-4 with a double, walk and three runs scored to go along with the homer.
Not yet, kid:Edwin Diaz, the Mariners top pitching prospect who was promoted from Double-A earlier in the day, started stretching in the bullpen during the seventh inning and it appeared likely the hard-throwing 22-year-old was going to make his MLB debut late in the one-sided affair. But Steve Johnson set the Rangers down on just six pitches in the seventh, so manager Scott Servais stuck with Johnson for the eighth and Diaz will have to wait for another day. More >
"Just where he's at, we'll take it easy with him," Servais said. "He threw a couple days ago. He was available tonight, but being it was such a big spread, there's two ways to look at it. It would be nice to get him in there for his first Major League game, but also I'm looking ahead to tomorrow's game and he may be able to get us some big outs there."
"Our job is to score runs, regardless of what it looks like. I think we've been doing a good job of scoring runs, unfortunately the pitching has been struggling. But they've been doing a good job all year long. You're going to go up and down in a long season, so we expect them to bounce back. Hopefully tomorrow Kuma is the answer." -- Cruz on Seattle's recent pitching woes
"It was amazing. It was hard for me to watch those games on the TV. It was amazing for me to come back and the fans here gave me some love. It was great." -- Odor on standing ovation in first plate appearance since being reinstated from suspension
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz now has 96 career home runs at Globe Life Park, tied with Adrian Beltre for sixth-most in the stadium's history.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rangers tried to tack on another run in the second inning on a play at the plate involving Profar, but were unsuccessful. Desmond's single to center scored Andrus from third, but Desmond was caught in a rundown after the Mariners cut off the throw from center. During the rundown, Profar tried to score, but was not able to get around Chris Iannetta's tag and was called out by home-plate umpire Eric Cooper. The call was confirmed and the delay took one minute and 43 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (4-4, 4.41 ERA) will seek his fourth straight win in Sunday's 12:05 p.m. PT series finale in Arlington. The Rangers snapped Iwakuma's string of six straight victories over them in April, but he's 8-4 with a 3.50 ERA in 16 career meetings.
Rangers: Left-hander Derek Holland will take the mound for the Rangers at 2:05 p.m. CT in the series finale at Globe Life Park. He will be looking to make a season-high fourth straight quality start.