SEATTLE -- Rougned Odor capped a seven-run rally in the fourth inning with a grand slam, as the Rangers won their third straight game with an 8-6 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field on Wednesday. The Mariners lost their fifth in a row.
The Rangers are now 2 1/2 games back of the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot -- two back in the loss column -- with 11 left to play. The Mariners are four games behind the Twins with 10 left to play.
"We're in the race," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We are feeling good. We want to keep playing and getting better, win games and see what happens. As long as we take care of our business, we are going to have an opportunity."
The Mariners trailed, 8-2, entering the bottom of the sixth. They nearly pulled off a late comeback, before Alex Claudio sealed the Rangers' win with a six-out save.
"[The losses] hurt, there's no question about it. They definitely hurt. I think everybody feels it in our clubhouse," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We've got to play better baseball. Ultimately, you're not going to the playoffs if you continue to make errors and you don't execute in crucial situations or make pitches, and that's where we're at. That's just the reality of it. Our guys are aware of that. It's not like they're not trying hard. But we have to continue to compete and make a little bit better decisions, and we have to execute better. That's where we're at."
The Rangers' seven-run outburst in the fourth came mostly at the expense of Mariners starter Felix Hernandez. Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Hernandez retired the first nine batters. But he faced seven batters in the fourth, and six of them reached base on two singles, three walks and a pair of errors.
Hernandez left trailing, 3-1, with the bases loaded and one out, having thrown 67 pitches. Left-hander Andrew Albers took over, making his first appearance since pitching five innings against the Rangers last Thursday, when he gave up a three-run homer to Odor.
This time, Albers got ahead 0-2, but missed with a curveball and then threw a slider that Odor -- who had just three hits in his previous 31 at-bats -- hit to the right-field seats for his 30th home run of the year.
"Unfortunately, in that situation, you just can't do that," Albers said. "Middle-middle, hung it and I know he's going to swing, he's an aggressive hitter, and that's got to be a better pitch. There's just no excuse for that, and a pitch that just can't happen in that situation.
Andrew Cashner notched the win for the Rangers, allowing three runs in six innings. He is 10-10 with a 3.44 ERA, tying his career high in wins. He gave up solo home runs to Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz.
"It's our mentality just to win today," Cashner said. "Not look too far ahead or in the past, just get going from the get-go."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sloppy defense fuels Rangers' rally: The Rangers' fourth-inning rally began with Delino DeShields drawing a walk and Shin-Soo Choo smacking a single to right. DeShields moved to third on the play when Haniger fumbled the ball. With runners at the corners, Andrus hit a chopper to third baseman Kyle Seager, who appeared to try to go for DeShields at the plate. But the ball slipped under his glove for an error that brought home the tying run. Adrian Beltre then drew a walk, and Nomar Mazara grounded a single up the middle to drive home two runs for a 3-1 lead.
"We've got to play smarter, we've got to play crisper baseball," Servais said. "The walks, a couple errors, baserunning, it all adds up and you can't overcome it, no matter how many runs you score."
Diekman gets Alonso: The Mariners cut the deficit to 8-5 in the seventh on Robinson Cano's two-run single off left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Cruz and Seager then walked to load the bases. But Diekman got Yonder Alonso to hit a first-pitch sinker on the ground to first baseman Joey Gallo to end the inning.
"[Diekman] has pitched a lot for them recently, and the situation there, they had [Matt] Bush up in the bullpen ready to go if we do run a righty up there," Servais said. "We had Alonso in the game, and he did get a pretty good pitch to hit and he got out in front of it, rolled it over to first base. I don't have a problem with it. If he smokes it, hits a double, you're right there in the game. You've tied it, or you're right where you need to be. So, I don't have a problem with that."
"I mean, it's great. He always comes, no matter what position they put him, he comes and does his job. He doesn't care what hitter he faces, he's always going to go there and throw the best pitch that he's got and try to finish the inning. He's been pitching really good." -- Odor, on Claudio
"It's something that has happened to [Ben] Gamel. We've talked about it, we'll go out and work on it. … It's a reaction play, but it's not a mistake that should be made at the big league level. And it's happening." -- Servais, on Gamel's baserunning gaffe in the eighth
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rangers challenged in the eighth that Mike Zunino was tagged out while sliding into second base on a leadoff double. However, the call stood, as there was inconclusive evidence that Zunino failed to maintain contact with the bag as the fielder made the tag.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels pitches against the Mariners at 9:10 p.m. CT on Thursday in the finale of the three-game series. Hamels is 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA over his last five starts, with the only win coming against the Mariners on Sept. 11.
Mariners: Left-hander James Paxton pitches against the Rangers at 7:10 p.m. PT on Thursday at Safeco Field. Paxton came off the disabled list last Friday and allowed four runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Astros.