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Logan Gilbert strikes out 9 and surging Mariners sweep Rangers 5-0

SEATTLE (AP) — Logan Gilbert struck out nine and gave up two hits over eight innings and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 5-0 on Sunday to sweep the series.

Rookie Tyler Locklear hit a solo home run to help back Gilbert (4-4) and help Seattle improve to 12 games over .500. The Mariners have won seven of eight games and nine straight home series.

“It really feels like a playoff atmosphere in mid-June, which is kind of weird to say,” Gilbert said. “But the ballpark was packed all three games, the crowd's going crazy. That's a really good team. We're playing really well right now.”

Mitch Haniger and Luke Raley hit back-to-back doubles off starter Dane Dunning (4-6) in the fourth to put the Mariners up 1-0. And Josh Rojas made it 2-0 after doubling with two outs in the fifth and scoring from second on Dunning's wild pitch that skipped short of the plate and under catcher Andrew Knizner’s glove.

Rojas took third as the ball bounced off the backstop and skipped toward the Mariners’ dugout, then raced home and slipped under Dunning's tag at home plate to make it 2-0.

Locklear’s seventh-inning shot to left was his second since joining the team as a replacement for regular first baseman Ty France.

Dunning pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up two earned runs and four hits. He struck out eight and walked three.

Seattle's 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West is its largest since 2001.

“That was fantastic,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Gilbert's performance. “He was in total control of the ballgame. He had great stuff, of course, but the execution of his slider and the split-finger was electric today. That's a really tough pitch and there's no way to game plan for it.”

Seattle starters Gilbert, George Kirby and Luis Castillo gave up seven runs and struck out 21 in the three-game series.

“All their starters, that's the story of this series,” Texas manager Bruch Bochy said. "They've got a really good staff and you've got to find a way to score runs, and we had a tough time.”

SCHERZER UPDATE

Texas manager Bruce Bochy said the team had not spoken with right-hander Max Scherzer on Sunday following a rehab appearance with Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. The team planned to talk with the three-time Cy Young Award winner after returning to Texas for this week’s homestand that begins Monday with the New York Mets. Scherzer has not pitched for the Rangers since the World Series following offseason back surgery.

He pitched 4 2/3 innings Saturday, throwing 78 pitches while striking out eight. He gave up four hits and three runs, including a first-pitch homer in the first inning. Scherzer then struck out the side.

Bochy said he was considering a six-man rotation when Scherzer returns among other options.

“I wouldn’t rule out anything here,” Bochy said.

ROJAS’ AT-BAT

Rojas got the crowd going in the first inning, too, when he took Dunning to 14 pitches, the longest at-bat of the season for the Mariners. The crowd cheered louder with each swing as Rojas fouled off eight straight pitches during the at-bat. He eventually popped out, but Dunning finished the inning with 33 pitches.

The starter responded by striking out the side in the second.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: Texas recalled right-hander Cole Winn from Triple-A Round Rock and designated right-hander Jesus Tinoco for assignment. He appeared in the ninth on Sunday, allowing a run on a wild pitch.

The team also announced third baseman Josh Jung (right wrist fracture) and right-hander Josh Sborz (right rotator cuff strain) were scheduled to make rehab appearances at Round Rock on Sunday vs. Seattle affiliate Tacoma. Bochy said Jung will get approximately 30 at-bats during the assignment. Sborz will start with an inning of work per appearance with a goal of two or three stints.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Jon Gray (2-2, 2.17) takes the mound as Texas returns home to host the New York Mets. His ERA is fourth best in the American League.

Mariners: Right-hander Bryce Miller (5-5, 3.48) will start Tuesday at Cleveland. Miller has won three straight.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb