SEATTLE (AP) — George Kirby allowed one run over six innings, Eugenio Suarez had three hits and an RBI and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Trying to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2001, Seattle rebounded after dropping the series opener Tuesday night.
The Mariners got a boost in the playoff picture when every other team in the American League wild-card race lost. Baltimore dropped 4 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the final wild-card spot. The Mariners are a half-game behind Tampa Bay and two back of Toronto for the top wild card.
“We played a crisp game tonight. Guys were on every pitch, the energy was great,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve had a nice year, but we need to get it turned, and hopefully it turned in the right direction tonight.”
Kirby (8-4) was coming off his worst start of the season, when he gave up five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against Oakland. He returned to form against Texas, allowing just one run on five hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Kirby extended his franchise record to 14 starts without allowing a home run, the longest such streak in the majors this year.
Josh Jung had an RBI single in the first inning for Texas’ lone run. Jung has driven in all six of Texas’ runs in the first two games of the series.
The Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Suarez and a sacrifice fly from Mitch Haniger.
Suarez was 3 for 3 with a walk, tying his season high for hits. It was his second game back after going on the injured list for 10 days with a fracture in his right index finger.
“It’s kind of frustrating because you just want to go and go,” Suarez said. “I’m just happy to be back in 10 days, do my best and help my team win. We needed that.”
Seattle loaded the bases with no outs in the third, but was only able to push across one run on a ground out by Carlos Santana. It was still enough, as Kirby and the bullpen kept the Rangers scoreless after the opening inning.
Texas starter Martin Perez (12-7) took the loss despite going seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits.
“He gave us a chance to win the ballgame,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “I thought it was an outstanding start from him. He battled, competed, it was just unfortunate we couldn’t muster enough offense.”
Kirby said he found himself rushing at times in the early innings with the pressure of the moment, but he was able to adjust.
“I just tried to slow myself down a little bit. Concentrate on my breath in between pitches, and I thought it worked out pretty well,” Kirby said.
Seattle relievers Eric Swanson, Andres Munoz and Paul Sewald each pitched a perfect inning to close out the game, with Sewald picking up his 20th save.
CHANGING THINGS UP
After losing 5-0 to the Rangers on Tuesday, Servais changed the team’s pregame routine Wednesday. The Mariners didn’t go through pregame warmups or batting practice and players were encouraged to arrive at the park later than usual for a “show and go” day.
“Sometimes you need that,” Suarez said. “It’s not just coming here and work, work, work. Sometimes you’ve got to take a little bit and relax.”
Rangers: SS Corey Seager was out of the lineup after getting hit on the forearm with a pitch late in Texas’ victory on Tuesday night. The Rangers said it was just a contusion and Seager was day-to-day. Josh H. Smith got the start at shortstop with Seager out.
MARINERS: OF Julio Rodriguez could start resuming some baseball activity on Thursday and definitely by Friday, manager Scott Servais said. Rodriguez has been out with a lower back strain but the goal is to have him activated off the injured list when he’s eligible next Monday.
Rangers: RHP Jon Gray (7-7, 3.64 ERA) starts the final game of the series. Gray is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts against Seattle this season.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.05) has lost his last three decisions. In his last outing he allowed four runs on eight hits in a loss to Kansas City.
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