SEATTLE -- The Rangers secured their first series sweep at Safeco Field since 2013 with a 4-2 win over the Mariners on Thursday, holding firm in the American League Wild Card chase in the process.
Cole Hamels threw eight innings of one-run ball and Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo homered as the Rangers won their fourth straight game to pull back to .500 at 76-76. Texas heads to Oakland to complete a nine-game road trip, tied with the Angels at 2 1/2 games back of the Twins with 10 games remaining.
"Veteran leadership showed up tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "They know how to go out and perform and put their team in winning situations. We have seen it so much from Hamels in the past. When we need a huge start… that was a big-time start tonight."
The Mariners saw their own Wild Card chances take a huge hit with the series sweep as they've dropped a season-high six straight games to fall to 74-79, five back of Minnesota with nine games to go.
"It was a tough night. It's been a tough six games," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "We haven't done a whole lot of positive stuff. Offensively we've struggled and we got outpitched in this series as well. It's disappointing."
Robinson Cano hit his 300th career homer in the top of the ninth off reliever Keone Kela for Seattle, joining Jeff Kent (377) and Rogers Hornsby (301) as the only second basemen in MLB history with 300 home runs.
Nelson Cruz hammered his 35th homer of the season in the seventh for the lone run off Hamels. The Rangers lefty allowed just three hits, the other two coming on Jean Segura singles, as he's now 11-4 with a 3.80 ERA.
Seattle southpaw James Paxton, making his second start since coming off the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, gave up four hits and two runs over 3 2/3 innings before being lifted after reaching 73 pitches.
"We needed a series like this," Beltre said. "Obviously, we are still trying to find a way how to get in. The next few series are huge for us to come out and find a way to win the series and see where we're at. We want to be already in, but our job is to try to find a way to win ballgames and hopefully find a way to get in. We've been playing well. We definitely have to finish strong."
All the Rangers' damage against Paxton came in the first as he fell to 12-5 with a 3.03 ERA.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Seager can't make play: The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the first off Paxton on three straight singles by Choo, Elvis Andrus and Beltre. After Joey Gallo struck out, Carlos Gomez hit a wicked grounder that third baseman Kyle Seager couldn't come up with. It caromed off him and into foul territory as Gomez ended up with a two-run double.
"I sure it's a play that Kyle feels he should make," Servais said. "Big play in the game. Obviously to get off the field there with a zero in the first inning. It wasn't the whole story of the game, but early in the game you have to make the plays. It was hit hard, but I'm sure Seags will be the first to tell you it was a play he probably should have made."
Beltre goes deep: Beltre hit his 17th home run of the season to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the sixth. Beltre's home run came off of Mariners pitcher Dan Altavilla and was his first since Aug. 23. This was Beltre's sixth start at designated hitter since missing two weeks with a strained left hamstring. The home run was career No. 462 and tied him for 35th all-time with Jose Canseco, Adam Dunn and Miguel Cabrera.
"I've been feeling a little better every day," Beltre said. "Hopefully it progresses and I can find more consistency. It was a good pitch to hit, so I was able to put a good swing on it. I definitely used some of the lower half."
"We're not mathematically eliminated yet. I know it doesn't look good right now. Biggest thing, we got to play a good ballgame. We got to go out and win a ballgame. It hasn't happened in the last week. Our guys are frustrated. We all are. I think we've played our tails off and to be in important games in September, we got there, and we have not responded. We have not played that well." -- Servais as the Mariners' playoff elimination number is down to any combination of five losses by the Mariners and wins by the Twins
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Cruz became the fourth player in MLB history to hit 35 or more homers in four consecutive seasons at age 33 or older, joining Babe Ruth (1928-32), Rafael Palmeiro (1998-203) and Barry Bonds (2000-04).
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Nick Martinez pitches against the A's in the first of a three-game series at 9:05 p.m. CT on Friday at the Oakland Coliseum. The Rangers have lost their last five games against the Athletics at the Coliseum.
Mariners:Erasmo Ramirez (5-6, 4.23 ERA) opens the final home series of the season on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT against Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer (16-9, 4.41). Ramirez, acquired from the Rays on July 28, is 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA over his last seven starts with Seattle.