It was an up-and-down June for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers .
Texas (48-34) entered June three games up on Oakland for the West lead, but lost 12 of 17 to fall three back of the top spot. The Rangers, though, finished the month with a half-game division lead over the Athletics after winning for the ninth time in 11 games Sunday, 3-2 over Cincinnati.
"It's the best .500 month ever - to go from where we were and the stretch we knew we had in front of us," closer Joe Nathan told the Rangers' official website. "... Guys knew not to give up and keep pressing on."
Grimm (7-5, 5.56 ERA) will try to do that after going 2-2 with a 9.00 ERA in five June starts. The rookie had the majors' worst ERA in that month of anyone to pitch at least 25 innings, and he's failed to make it through six in half of his 14 starts this season.
"I'm not happy being a five-and-dive guy," he said after allowing three runs over five innings in Wednesday's 8-5 win in the Bronx.
Grimm has gone at least six while winning his last two starts against the Mariners (35-47), giving up five total runs in 12 1-3 innings.
"It's Seattle. ... they've seen me here or there, but if I'm executing my pitches, I'll get them out," Grimm said.
Losers of nine of 13, the Mariners could use a quality start from Joe Saunders (5-8, 4.98) as they kick off their six-game trip. The left-hander, though, has a 9.91 ERA while losing all seven regular-season starts in Arlington after lasting 4 2-3 innings and yielding all the runs in 7-0 loss April 19.
Saunders won the 2012 AL wild-card game at Rangers Ballpark while with Baltimore, but no pitcher in the stadium's history has that many regular-season losses without a victory.
"You know it's going to be hot, you know it's going to be steamy, and you've just got to try to hydrate the best you can," he told the Mariners' official website. "... You've just got to go out there and execute your pitches."
That didn't happen last Tuesday when Saunders was charged with six runs and six hits - including three homers - in 1 2-3 innings of a 9-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
Saunders has surrendered four homers to Ian Kinsler - his most to anyone - but the second baseman is 0 for 6 in that matchup this season. Kinsler is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
Leonys Martin , who has hit safely in 14 straight, went 3 for 7 as the Rangers outscored the Mariners 23-3 in their lone visit to Arlington this season from April 19-21.
Kyle Seager had six of the Mariners' 18 hits in that set and is batting .366 in the season series as Seattle has dropped seven of 10. Seager, 3 for 9 with two doubles off Grimm, has two hits - both homers - in 27 at-bats over the last six games.
It's uncertain if Lance Berkman will return after missing the Rangers' weekend series with a knee injury suffered when he stumbled down the stairs of the team's charter plane.
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|June 18, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Sore right quad|
|June 08, 2013||Kendrys Morales||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|June 21, 2013||Craig Gentry||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|June 13, 2013||Jeff Baker||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|June 07, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 07, 2013||Michael Kirkman||60-Day DL||Cutaneous lymphoma in right triceps|
|June 06, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Mitch Moreland||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kendrys Morales busted out of his power drought in a big way.
Morales homered twice and tied a career high with six RBIs to lead the Seattle Mariners past the Texas Rangers 9-2 on Tuesday night.
The switch-hitting Morales, who has been hampered by a sore back, hit .235 with one home run in 25 June games before jumping on the Rangers for the 10th multihomer game of his career.
"He lost his stroke there a little bit," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I think it's because he has been trying to do too much. But he's a good hitter who can do a lot of damage."
Morales had a solo home run in the first and a three-run shot in the fifth off rookie Justin Grimm . Seattle's designated hitter added a two-run single in the sixth to help the Mariners win for the first time at Texas this season.
"I worked in the cage the last three or four days to make adjustments to feel more comfortable," Morales said through a translator. "I want to take an aggressive approach every time. That's what it takes to be a winner."
Joe Saunders (6-8) won for the first time in eight regular-season starts at Rangers Ballpark. The left-hander allowed two runs - one earned - and struck out five in 6 2-3 innings.
Raul Ibanez , who hit 10 homers in June, had a solo shot for his 20th of the season as the Mariners opened a six-game road trip.
The Mariners had 13 hits and scored their most runs since beating San Diego 9-0 on May 27.
"I think the whole team swung the bats well," Ibanez said. "Even the outs that were made were good swings. It was a good collective effort."
Grimm (7-6) gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings. He was chased in favor of Ross Wolf after Morales hit his second homer.
The 24-year-old Grimm gave up a career-high three home runs and has a 9.31 ERA over his last six starts.
"When talking about youth on the mound, you're going to get inconsistency," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We have to get past the inconsistency."
Grimm retired the first two batters of the game before Ibanez lined a 2-1 pitch over the fence in the right. Three pitches later, Morales followed with a solo drive to make it 2-0.
"Their big bats in the order didn't miss," Washington said.
Texas' Leonys Martin dropped down a bunt single leading off the third to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active run in the majors. Martin scored two batters later on Elvis Andrus ' single.
After Dustin Ackley had a run-scoring double in the fourth to push the lead to 3-1, the Mariners scored three runs in the fifth.
Nick Franklin led off with a single and Ibanez reached on Ian Kinsler 's error at second base to set the stage for Morales. He hit the first pitch from Grimm into the seats in right, extending Seattle's lead to 6-1.
It was Morales' first multihomer game since last Aug. 8 against Oakland.
Morales, who went 3 for 5, capped his big game with a two-run single in the sixth to make it 8-1. It was the fourth time he had six RBIs in a game. He last drove in six on July 30, 2012, against Texas.
Saunders, who won the 2012 AL wild-card game at Rangers Ballpark with Baltimore, came in 0-7 with a 9.91 ERA in the regular season at Texas. The left-hander was coming off his shortest start of the season when he allowed six runs in 1 2-3 innings June 25 against Pittsburgh.
"This place has torn me up a few times," Saunders said. "Everybody knows they can hit the ball. I wanted to work down in the zone and try to get ahead, something I haven't been doing, and throw strikes."
Saunders got double-play grounders to end the fifth and sixth. After he recorded the first two outs of the seventh, Andrus and Nelson Cruz had consecutive singles to chase Saunders.
NOTES: Texas RHP Colby Lewis (elbow) threw 37 pitches in the bullpen and is expected to have another bullpen session Thursday. ... Rangers opening-day starter Matt Harrison , out since April while recovering from back surgery, threw from 120 feet. ... Ackley was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday's game with a sprained left thumb. ... Texas DH Lance Berkman (sore right knee) missed his fourth straight game. Berkman said he hopes to return to the lineup Wednesday night. ... Rangers radio announcer Eric Nadel missed most of the game because of laryngitis. Texas' lead radio voice called the first inning before leaving. ... The Rangers outscored the Mariners 23-3 in a three-game sweep April 19-21.