The Rangers will try to avoid being swept in a three-game series for just the second time this season Sunday against the Seattle Mariners .
With Hamilton back in Texas undergoing tests for a sinus infection that has led to vision problems, the Rangers (89-62) have dropped the first two games of this series, wasting a stellar outing by starter Matt Harrison in a 1-0 loss Saturday.
Harrison's only mistake was a second-inning home run to Michael Saunders . Texas, which grounded into three double plays in a 6-3 defeat Friday, went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position Saturday as it fell to 3-5 in Seattle this season.
While Hamilton's absence hasn't helped, the Rangers have struggled all season at Safeco Field, averaging 2.1 runs while hitting .211.
Despite suffering consecutive losses for the first time since a three-game skid in mid-August, Texas remains four games in front of Oakland in the AL West with the A's having lost back-to-back games in extra innings in New York."It happens. We're not going to win every series. You do the best you can to do that and win every game," Harrison said. "I guess if we're going to lose, it's good the A's lose too."
Still holding a fairly comfortable lead, Texas will try to avoid being swept by Seattle (72-80) for the first time since 2007 before it begins a critical homestand that includes four against Oakland and three versus the Los Angeles Angels .
However, with Hamilton out again Sunday, breaking out of this offensive slump could be difficult. Texas has scored three or fewer runs in five of its last six games, including three straight.
"Something we feel is a big strength of our offensive game is being versatile enough to do little things when called upon to do it," said Michael Young , who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. "Tonight we didn't do it."
The Rangers, who were swept in a two-game set against Kansas City in mid-May, have only been swept in a three-game series against the White Sox from July 3-5.
They'll hand the ball to Ryan Dempster (6-2, 4.70 ERA), who looks to bounce back after being knocked around in his last start.
Dempster gave up five runs, six hits and three walks over 3 1-3 innings of an 11-3 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday. He had allowed two or fewer runs in his previous five starts while going at least six innings in each of them.
"It got out of control," manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't get any outs. Dempster struggled from the beginning."
The right-hander is facing the Mariners for the first time since completing a 2-0 loss at Safeco Field while with the Cubs on July 22, 2010 - his only previous start against Seattle.
The Mariners counter with Jason Vargas (14-10, 3.92), who has a 6.35 ERA in his last five starts. He gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-6 win over the Rangers on Sept. 15, but didn't factor in the decision.
Despite his recent struggles, Vargas is 5-4 with a 2.62 ERA at home - including 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA in the last six.
|September 18, 2012||Tanner Scheppers||Day-to-Day||Left game - Bruised right knee|
|September 13, 2012||Mike Olt||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, right foot|
|September 13, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Sore left knee|
|September 12, 2012||Adrian Beltre||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left shoulder|
|September 09, 2012||Roy Oswalt||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right elbow|
|September 02, 2012||Ian Kinsler||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|September 15, 2012||Casper Wells||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 31, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained groin|
|August 25, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
SEATTLE (AP) -- The thought of being swept by the scuffling Seattle Mariners while trying to hold off the rest of the AL West was a proposition the Texas Rangers just couldn't stomach.
And yet it almost happened anyway.
Mike Adams worked out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning and Mike Napoli and Geovany Soto homered to lead Texas to a 3-2 victory over the Mariners on Sunday and preserve a four-game lead over second-place Oakland in the division.
With Oakland's 5-4 win over the New York Yankees earlier Sunday, the Rangers were looking to keep their distance over the Athletics with a pivotal four-game series against them beginning in Texas on Monday.
"We don't want to get swept," Texas starter Ryan Dempster said. "It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, where you're playing, who you're playing, if you have a chance to avoid a sweep you want to do that."
Adams allowed singles to Franklin Gutierrez and Kyle Seager to lead off the eighth. He has found himself in these situations more often than he would like this season, but it prepared him for taking on the heart of the Mariners lineup with no margin for error.
"I've kind of put myself in situations like that," Adams said. "The mindset is just `Here we go. We've got to tighten this up a little bit and get one out at a time."'
A chopper to the mound by John Jaso moved the runners to second and third with one out and the Rangers elected to intentionally walk Justin Smoak to load the bases. Adams struck out Eric Thames and induced a lazy fly ball to center from Luis Jimenez to get out of the jam and preserve the one-run lead.
"We had a great opportunity there in the eighth inning," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "You've got to push at least one run across there. You've got to put that ball in play - do more than we did."
Texas manager Ron Washington had no hesitation in leaving Adams in after the consecutive hits to lead off the inning. He trusts Adams to be his eighth inning guy and his ability to work out of these situations was critcial on Sunday.
"It was very pivotal. They had an opportunity to get a base hit and win a ball game," Washington said. "... Mike didn't get shaken he just kept battling and got us out of that inning."
Solo homers by Thames and Brendan Ryan off Dempster (12-7) in the seventh inning were the only blemishes to a strong outing. Dempster went 6 2-3 innings allowing two runs and six hits while allowing one walk and striking out eight. Joe Nathan earned his 35th save.
The win gives Texas a little added cushion with seven of the Rangers' final 10 games coming against Oakland.
"You should be playing the teams in your own division down the stretch and we just got to get home, get some good rest and come out and play a tough ball game because those guys will be ready tomorrow," Dempster said.
The Rangers were again without Josh Hamilton , who has missed the last five games with a sinus issue that's affected his vision. The Rangers had eight hits off Mariners starter Jason Vargas (14-11).
In his absence, the Rangers have struggled to produce timely hits to drive in runs as Texas' usual offensive juggernaut has sputtered from its typical production.
"You go through spells like this," Washington said. "I'd rather keep leaving guys out on the bag than not getting them out there because with this team, we'll get them in."
Texas left runners in scoring position in the second and third innings before finally breaking through in the fourth. A solo home run from Napoli gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. After a walk to David Murphy , Soto followed with a 2-run blast into the Texas bullpen in left field.
Two-out singles in the fifth inning from Ryan and Michael Saunders gave Seattle its first runner in scoring position of the game. Gutierrez worked a full-count against Dempster but flied out to the warning track in left.
Notes: Hamilton will rejoin the team when it returns to Texas on Monday. Washington said he still isn't sure when Hamilton will be able to return to the lineup. ... The Mariners are 1 for their last 40 with runners in scoring position. ... Texas earned its 90th win of the season for the third consecutive year and sixth time in franchise history. Texas has won the season series over Seattle five straight times and in eight of the last nine seasons. ... Seattle has homered in each of its last 13 games, a season high. ... Vargas has allowed 35 home runs this season.