The offenses of the Rangers and Mariners appear to be trending in opposite directions, with Texas' lineup breaking out in a series-opening victory while Seattle's continued to scuffle.
Both will turn to rookie hurlers - facing each other for the second time this season - as this three-game set continues Saturday night in Arlington.
The Rangers (10-6) led the majors with 808 runs last year but were expected to see their offense take a hit after losing key players in the offseason. However, most likely didn't expect them to dip as drastically as the 3.7 runs per game they've averaged heading into Friday's contest.
But Texas busted out for a 7-0 victory, matching a season high for runs, and its six runs in the fifth were twice as many as the team had scored in a single inning this year.
"We know what we're capable of as an offense. You can't do that every night," said Ian Kinsler , who leads Texas with five home runs and 11 RBIs. "I think we all want to get it going earlier."
Meanwhile, the Mariners (7-11) remain mired in inconsistency and haven't strung together two victories since starting 2-0. A big problem has been the lack of run production, with Seattle averaging 2.1 runs over its last nine games while going 3-6.
The Mariners have struck out 44 times in their last three, including 10 times against Texas' Yu Darvish on Friday. The others were against Detroit's Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander , meaning they've faced three of baseball's top strikeout artists in order. But manager Eric Wedge wasn't necessarily buying that excuse.
"We have faced good pitchers. But we're a lot better than that," Wedge said. "The one thing is hitting with two strikes. We gotta do a better job. There's certain things we need to do prior to that to create damage. We're capable and we should do a better job."
Looking to follow Darvish's masterful outing - it was the first time Seattle has been shut out - will be right-hander Nick Tepesch , who is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA through the first two starts of his career. The loss came in a 4-3 defeat at Seattle last Sunday as he surrendered four runs on nine hits over 5 2-3 innings.
"The bottom line is he kept us in the game and gave us a chance," manager Ron Washington told the team's official website. "We just didn't get the hit that would have made a difference."
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer picked up his first career victory in that game, holding the Rangers to three runs on five hits over six innings.
Maurer, who is 1-2 with a 9.95 ERA after he was shelled in his first two starts, said he believes the experience against the same club should help Saturday.
"I'll just go out there and do the same thing," the 22-year-old told the Mariners' official website. "I don't have to tweak anything. Just go out there and make pitches."
Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game and for the fifth time in seven days Friday as he continues to deal with groin tightness. Wedge said the team would continue to monitor his status.
|April 15, 2013||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Torn right lat muscle|
|April 12, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Fractured finger|
|April 11, 2013||Michael Saunders||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|April 10, 2013||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sprained right shoulder|
|March 25, 2013||Josh Kinney||60-Day DL||Stress reaction, left shoulder|
|March 19, 2013||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Stiffness in neck|
|April 11, 2013||Justin Miller||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 07, 2013||Matt Harrison||15-Day DL||Inflamed nerve in lower back|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- When Nick Tepesch went down with an injury, Derek Lowe stepped right in.
Lowe pitched four hitless innings in relief of Tepesch, A.J. Pierzynski and David Murphy each hit solo homers and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 5-0 on Saturday night.
Tepesch came out of the game in the second inning after he was hit just above the right wrist by a line drive, sustaining a bruise.
Lowe (1-0) allowed only one Seattle batter to reach when he hit Kendrys Morales with a pitch leading off the third.
"This is what I signed up for," Lowe said. "You never know when that day is going to come. I pride myself on being prepared."
This was Lowe's longest outing since going four innings with the New York Yankees against the Rangers last Aug. 13.
After not pitching for 10 days, Lowe went 2 2-3 innings Thursday against the Chicago Cubs .
Lowe turned to his sinker against the aggressive Mariners lineup. He needed only 31 pitches to record 12 outs.
"To throw 31 pitches in four innings, that's not just the pitchers," Lowe said. "It takes two to tango, so to speak. I tried to throw as many sinkers down in the zone as I possibly could."
Tepesch left with two outs in the second inning when Jesus Montero 's liner caromed off the right-hander's wrist and into shallow right field.
The 24-year-old Tepesch, who was bleeding just above his wrist, began immediately shaking his arm after he was struck. He threw a couple of warm-up pitches, but the Rangers opted to bring Lowe into the game.
In his third career start, Tepesch allowed two hits in 1 2-3 innings. Texas manager Ron Washington said he expects the rookie to make his next start.
"It could have been a lot worse," Tepesch said. "I'm just fortunate the results weren't too bad."
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer (1-3) gave up the homers to Pierzynski and Murphy, the only two hits the rookie allowed in 6 2-3 innings. The 22-year-old struck out two and walked three.
The Mariners had five singles and were shut out for a second straight game. Seattle has gone 19 innings without scoring a run.
"We hit some balls hard tonight," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "We're in one of those zones right now where if you do hit it hard, it's right at them. We're going through some
tough times offensively right now."
Joe Ortiz relieved Lowe with two outs in the sixth and allowed two batters to reach when Kyle Seager singled and Morales walked. Ortiz got out of trouble when Michael Morse grounded out to end the sixth.
Tanner Scheppers went 1 1-3 innings and Jason Frasor pitched the ninth to preserve Texas' fourth shutout of the season.
The Rangers broke the game open with three runs in the eighth. Lance Berkman had a two-run single and Pierzynski capped the inning with an RBI single.
"The last two nights have been a step in the right direction," Murphy said. "But I think it's safe to say our offense still has yet to completely click. While we're still trying to find ourselves one through nine, our pitchers are going to keep us in games and our pitchers are going to win games for us."
Texas picked up its first hit when Pierzynski homered to center off Maurer with one out in the fourth.
Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez reached out over the wall and nearly bumped gloves with the fan who caught Pierzynski's home run ball.
Wedge said that Gutierrez told him he thought he was going to make the catch, but he admitted that the play was not fan's interference.
Maurer retired the next 10 batters he faced until Murphy homered with two outs in the seventh. That chased the rookie and Charlie Furbush came on in relief.
The Mariners had two runners on in each the seventh and eighth innings but couldn't score. Seattle has scored 19 runs in its last 10 games.
The Mariners have struck out 52 times in its last four games.
"It's been two well-pitched ball games on their side," Seager said. "Offensively, we've obviously got to do better and score some runs."
NOTES: Justin Grimm , who is replacing the injured Matt Harrison in the rotation, will make his second start of the season for the Rangers on Sunday. He will oppose Mariners right-hander Aaron Harang (0-1). . Seager extended his hitting streak to nine games. . Texas SS Elvis Andrus is 5 for 35 in his last nine games.