Seager, Iannetta provide big hits in win vs. Texas
By Greg Johns and T.R. Sullivan
SEATTLE -- Kyle Seager ripped his career-high 27th home run and Taijuan Walker recorded his first win in 10 weeks as the Mariners slowed the Rangers' runaway in the American League West with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Safeco Field.
The Rangers have lost four of their last five games, but still lead the AL West by 8 1/2 games as second-place Houston fell to Cleveland. Texas' magic number is now at 14. After winning three of four from the Rangers, the Mariners have pulled back within 4 1/2 games in the Wild Card chase with 22 games remaining.
"It was nice to kind of slow them down," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We really had a good offensive series, just grinding their starters. We made Derek Holland really work tonight. We are not done. I know many people want to write us off, but we still have a bunch of games to play and it's going to be interesting."
Walker was 0-4 with a 9.55 ERA over his previous five starts, but the 24-year-old right-hander worked five innings with three runs and seven hits to record his first win since June 30. He's now 5-10 with a 4.64 ERA.
"The biggest thing is if the team wins," Walker said. "My job is to give the team the best chance to win. Especially here in September, we're in the hunt. Every game counts."
Holland gave up 10 hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings and the left-hander departed with a 4-3 deficit as the Rangers starters are now 1-4 with an 11.70 ERA over the last five games. Seager's two-run shot off reliever Jake Diekman pushed Seattle's lead to 6-3 in the seventh.
"This time of year, you look at the scoreboard and there are games like this all over the league," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The challenge for us is to take advantage of our scoring opportunities and pitch better."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Double your fun: The Mariners put up three runs on Holland in the third to take a 4-2 lead, with the big blow a bases-loaded double by catcher Chris Iannetta that plated Seager and Dae-Ho Lee. Iannetta has seen his playing time dwindle considerably since Mike Zunino's midseason promotion from Triple-A and he'd had just one RBI in his previous 22 games, hitting .174 in 69 at-bats since July 6.
"It's been a really weird year," Iannetta said. "I went through two stretches, one early in the season that was pretty bad and one right around the All-Star break. But everything else has been pretty much on par. It's frustrating. But I've felt really good, my swing feels good, I'm seeing it good, I've hit some line drives right at people. It's just the luck of the draw. But I'm glad to get some hits when the team needs it."
Desmond goes deep for 100:Ian Desmond scored his 100th run of the season when he hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. It was his 22nd home run but only his second in his last 38 games. The last time a Rangers player scored 100-plus runs was in 2012 when Ian Kinsler had 105 and Josh Hamilton had 102.
Dae-Ho delivers: Lee, the Mariners' 34-year-old rookie first baseman from Korea, pushed an opposite-field home run over the right-field fence in the second to give Seattle a 1-0 lead and also walked and scored in the fourth in a 2-for-3 night. Lee now has 14 homers on the season, but it was his first since July 31. The big man has heated up since a 10-day stint in Triple-A as he's batting .394 (13-for-33) with eight RBIs in 10 games since his return.
"He's got his confidence back," Servais said. "He's kind of got his swag and the smile back and the jolly old man running around out there. And he's got the magic wand going, too. He's gotten a few hits and the confidence is starting to grow. It's nice to see."
Diekman hit again: Lefty Diekman had another rough outing, his fourth in a row. Diekman was called upon in the seventh with the Rangers trailing, 4-3. He walked Robinson Cano to start the inning, struck out Nelson Cruz and then gave up Seager's two-run home run on a full-count, 95 mph fastball. Diekman got through the inning but in his last four outings, he has allowed five runs on five hits and four walks.
"We've got to get him right," Banister said. "This is the fourth time it has been a little bit of a struggle. Jake has to go out and battle through whatever he's going through."
"It's nice that they keep going up. If I play for maybe 15-20 more years, I'll be in the Cruz territory, so that would be nice.". -- Seager, on hitting his 27th homer after totaling 26 last year and 25 in 2014
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Cano and Cruz were a combined 0-for-6 with two strikeouts off Holland. The rest of the lineup was 10-for-15 with three walks and two strikeouts during his 4 1/3 innings.
REPLAY UPHOLDS STRONG THROW
Mariners left fielder Guillermo Heredia threw out Desmond trying to score from second base on Adrian Beltre's one-out single in the fourth. The Rangers appealed the call on the basis of the collision rule, believing catcher Iannetta blocked the plate, but the out call was confirmed by replay.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish (5-4, 3.45 ERA) pitches for the Rangers in the first of a three-game series against the Angels at 9:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Angel Stadium. Darvish is making his first start against the Angels since 2014. He is also looking for his first road win this year, going 0-3 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts away from Arlington.
Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma (14-11, 4.01 ERA) starts the Mariners' series opener in Oakland on Friday at 7:05 p.m. PT. The 35-year-old right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA over his last five starts, but is 3-0, 3.26 in three starts against Oakland this year, including his last win Aug. 13.