If Beltre can match his performance from the last time he faced Hisashi Iwakuma , the Rangers certainly stand a better chance of continuing their run Friday night against the visiting Seattle Mariners .
After averaging 2.4 runs and batting .232 while dropping 12 of 15 from July 10-28, Texas has turned things around by scoring 5.8 per game and hitting .285 during a 14-2 stretch."We never feel like we're out of the game - we play all nine innings," said Ian Kinsler , whose two-run single in the seventh inning was the difference in Wednesday's 5-4 win over Milwaukee.
The Rangers (70-51) trailed Oakland by six games in the division as recently as July 29, but the hot stretch has moved them 1 1/2 ahead of the Athletics.
Beltre has played a key role in the resurgence, batting .426 with 15 RBIs during that 16-game span. He's also hitting .423 with two homers in his last six games against the Mariners (55-65), who have dropped 12 of 18 following Thursday's 7-1 defeat at Tampa Bay.
Iwakuma (10-6, 3.02 ERA) will try to provide a lift for a Seattle rotation that has a 5.26 ERA in those 18 contests. He surrendered a pair of home runs to Beltre in a 5-4 loss in Arlington on July 4, and the third baseman is 6 for 17 lifetime in this matchup.
After going 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA over his previous five starts, the right-hander hopes to regroup following one of his worst outings. He matched a season high by allowing six runs - all in the seventh inning - and a season-worst nine hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 10-0 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
Iwakuma has yielded three runs and eight hits over 14 2-3 innings against the Rangers in two home starts - both Seattle victories - but he gave up four runs over six-plus innings in the July loss at Texas.
The Rangers counter with Derek Holland (9-6, 3.07), who is 4-2 with a 2.53 ERA in his last nine starts. He allowed three runs and six hits over six innings before leaving without a decision in Saturday's 5-4 win at Houston.
Although Holland is 7-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 13 road starts, he's 2-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 at home.
The left-hander has pitched well against the Mariners, going 7-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts. He's limited them to two earned runs with 20 strikeouts over 12 2-3 innings in two meetings this season.
Seager is hitting .418 (23 for 55) versus the Rangers this season, while Ackley has gone 5 for 40 (.125).
Seattle has dropped eight of 13 against Texas this year, including four of six in Arlington.
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|August 03, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Lower body|
|July 12, 2013||Justin Grimm||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|July 06, 2013||Nick Tepesch||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kyle Seager never realized just how bad a slump he was in until after hitting a go-ahead homer for the Seattle Mariners .
Seager snapped a career-worst 0-for-21 slide with a two-run drive in the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Friday night.
"I didn't know until the postgame (TV) interview that it was 0-for-21," he said. "It's one of those things I had kind of realized that I hadn't gotten a hit in a little while."
Derek Holland pitched two-hit ball with six strikeouts over seven scoreless innings for Texas before Neal Cotts (4-2), whose 0.93 ERA was the lowest among American League relievers, walked Nick Franklin . Seager then lined an 0-2 pitch into the Rangers bullpen in right-center field, his 18th homer of the season but first in 13 games.
"We knew he's struggling a little bit," acting manager Robby Thompson said. "The thing about him, you would never know it, the way he handles it, carries himself whether he's 10 for 20 or 0 for 21. That's the sign of a pro right there. He's a battler, that's why he's in there in the third hole."
Cotts was clearly frustrated leaving a pitch over the middle of the plate against a fellow lefty.
Justin Smoak added a homer in the ninth for Seattle, which won for only the seventh time in 19 games.
Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6) struck out eight and allowed one run in seven innings.
The Rangers had the bases loaded in the eighth when A.J. Pierzynski, whose RBI single in the fourth produced the only Texas run, had an inning-ending popout to third baseman Seager.
After Mariners reliever Oliver Perez walked and hit a batter to start the eighth, the only batters he faced, Elvis Andrus had a sacrifice bunt before Ian Kinsler struck out against Yoervis Medina . Adrian Beltre , already with two hits and hitting .452 over a 16-game span, was intentionally walked before Charlie Furbush came on to retire Pierzynski.
"I didn't think he hit it too good," Furbush said. "I heard the bat break'."
Danny Farquhar struck out two in a perfect ninth for his sixth save in nine chances, bouncing back from a blown save in his last appearance two nights earlier.
Rangers manager Ron Washington twice went out to argue calls by Angel Hernandez, an umpire he publicly criticized in the past. Both calls were for players coming off second base - one defensively, the other a Texas base runner.
In the Seattle third, Rangers second baseman Kinsler was taking a throw for a force out when he shuffled his feet while trying to get out of the way of an oncoming runner. Hernandez immediately motioned that Kinsler came off the base before making the catch, and replays showed that to be the case.
An inning later, on his RBI single to left-center, Pierzynski was called out at second after sliding in ahead of the tag by Franklin before briefly coming off the base. It didn't appear on replays that Pierzynski was being tagged when he came off before reaching out with his hand to get back on the base. Hernandez, behind the tangled bodies, called the runner out, bringing Washington out again as Pierzynski was flat on back screaming in disgust.
"He overslid the bag, and you got the benefit of a replay," Washington said diplomatically.
Two years ago, after Washington and first base coach Gary Pettis got ejected by Hernandez on a disputed balk call, the Rangers manager said, "Angel is bad. That's all there is to it."
Even before his reunions with Hernandez, Washington had gone out to talk with umpire Doug Eddings about an inning-ending play in the first when Andrus tried to score from first on Beltre's single to right. Andrus dived head-first, but was initially blocked from reaching the plate while catcher Humberto Quintero made a sweeping tag. It was unclear on replays if he actually tagged Andrus, or if the runner ever did touch the plate.
NOTES: Seager has a 12-game hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark. ... When Andrus tried to reach on a bunt leading off the sixth, Quintero bounced up to field the ball and then made a strong throw even while one of his cleats came off his feet. ... Rangers ace Yu Darvish (12-5), the major league strikeout leader with 207, turned 27 on Friday. He starts the series finale against the Mariners on Sunday. ... When Jurickson Profar struck out to end the second, he contended that the ball bounced in the dirt after he fouled it off. Eddings got the ball back from Quintero, who was already going back to the dugout, and confirmed the strikeout. He showed the ball to Profar. Replays, though, showed it might have bounced into the catcher's mitt.