Poreda demonstrated his potential value in that role with two crucial scoreless innings as the Rangers rallied for a 6-3 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field. The Rangers trailed 3-0 after four innings against Mariners starter Felix Hernandez before coming back and winning for the 10th time in their last 13 games.
"It was definitely a good one for us," said first baseman Mitch Moreland, who delivered the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. "He's a tough opponent always so to be able to create some opportunities and push some runs across, it was big for us."
Poreda earned only his second Major League victory and first since June 25, 2009. Poreda is a former No. 1 pick by the White Sox out of the University of San Francisco who was once included in a trade to the Padres for Jake Peavy.
But his career unraveled because of elbow trouble in early 2012 that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery in October of that year. He missed all of last season but signed a Minor League contract with the Rangers in the winter and pitched well enough in Spring Training to get called up nine days ago.
"It's amazing to be back," Poreda said. "It's amazing to even be put in a position to get a win. It's definitely a start. I have higher expectations and goals than just one win but this is definitely a great start."
He'll get more opportunities if he pitches like this with Figueroa gone.
"Awesome," manager Ron Washington said. "He's getting ahead early in counts and throwing strikes. He had a good changeup. He helped us tremendously."
Poreda allowed the Rangers to finish their comeback against Hernandez after taking over for Lewis, who allowed three runs in five-plus innings. Lewis gave up a couple of solo home runs in the first two innings and then ran into trouble when the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth.
Mike Zunino's sacrifice fly scored one run and left runners at the corners. But Lewis kept it a 3-0 game by getting Brad Miller on a fly to shallow left and striking out Michael Saunders. Both managers said that was a crucial part of the ballgame.
"Very disappointed," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I thought that was the deciding inning for us as far as the ballgame was concerned. We certainly had an opportunity to blow it open right there and we didn't get it done."
Hernandez allowed just one infield single through four innings but threw 69 pitches. The Rangers offensive tenacity paid off when they opened the fifth with three straight base hits from Moreland, Donnie Murphy and Leonys Martin. That loaded the bases and Hernandez walked Robinson Chirinos on four pitches to force in a run. Michael Choice's single to left scored another run and Elvis Andrus tied it with a sacrifice fly to right.
"They were swinging at the first pitch, I made a couple mistakes and they just put good swings on it," Hernandez said said. "After that I don't even know. I don't even remember the last time I walked somebody on four straight pitches with the bases loaded."
The Mariners have lost both games against the Rangers with Hernandez on the mound this season and six of the last seven since the start of 2013.
"The big thing for us was making the guy throw strikes," Andrus said. "Felix had 70-something pitches by the fifth inning so everybody was doing a great job. We were fighting whether it was a positive at-bat or a negative at-bat. As long as we made him throw a lot of pitches and find a way to get on base, good things happen."
Lewis left after walking Justin Smoak to lead off the sixth. Poreda took over and delivered two scoreless innings. The Mariners had two on with two out in the seventh but Poreda struck out Kyle Seager to end the threat in another key moment in the ballgame.
"Poreda gave us exactly what we needed tonight," Washington said.
The Rangers took the lead in the top of the eighth against the Mariners bullpen. Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush began the inning by hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch. After right-hander Yoervis Medina took over, Adrian Beltre singled to center as Fielder moved up to second.
Alex Rios followed with a high chopper to Miller, the Mariners shortstop who could only get the force at second as Beltre slid in hard into second baseman Robinson Cano. That put Fielder on third with one out and Moreland brought him home with a sacrifice fly. The Rangers added two more in the ninth inning and Soria closed it out with his sixth save.