ARLINGTON (AP) – Casper Wells hit a scorcher toward third base. The ball took a hard, wicked hop over Michael Young into left field and wound up being the game-winning hit for the Seattle Mariners.
“If he would have come up with it, it would have been great,” Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “But that ball was smoked.”
Wells’ tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh inning was the difference for Seattle in a 4-3 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers on Wednesday night that finally got Jason Vargas another victory.
Vargas (7-10) went seven innings with three strikeouts and four walks. The left-hander threw a season-high 121 pitches to get his first win in his last seven starts — he had gone 0-5 since his shutout July 1 against San Diego.
“He was in control of the ballgame. He really bowed his neck and got it done,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We really needed this one. To salvage this one and head home was big for us and Jason stepped up.”
Unlike the night before, when the Rangers overcame a three-run deficit to win in their final at-bat, there would be no late heroics.
Jamey Wright got through the middle part of the Texas lineup allowing only a single in the eighth before Brandon League had the same line in the ninth to get his 27th save in 31 chances.
“Last night was a heartbreaker. It’s nice to get a victory with a long flight home,” said Mike Carp, who had a two-run homer for the Mariners and later scored the go-ahead run.
The Rangers finished a 4-2 homestand before going on the road for their next 10 games. They maintained a 1 1/2-game division lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost 9-3 at Yankee Stadium earlier Wednesday.
It was another inconsistent outing for Rangers starter Derek Holland, who struck out seven and walked five over six innings. There was some solace in the fact that the left-hander allowed only three runs, one of them unearned after his fielding error, and he left with the game tied.
“It should be a sign of maturity, he should be proud of what he did tonight,” Washington said. “In the sense that the game could have got out of control, but he gave up three runs and he kept us in there. He gave us a chance to win.”
Wells walked twice and had two singles, the last one driving in Carp, who started the seventh with a bloop single off reliever Koji Uehara (1-2).
Carp had already extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-run homer in the third that made it 3-0. Carp’s fourth homer came after Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single.
With the bases loaded in the second, Trayvon Robinson took a full swing and hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Holland fielded the ball but couldn’t get it out of his glove as Franklin Gutierrez scored on the error. Ichiro Suzuki then hit another comebacker, but Holland made that play to get that runner out at the plate.
“It’s good I got to fight through it and they let me stay out there,” Holland said. “It could have gone the other way, it could have been real bad. It’s all about maturing.”
Holland allowed six runs in 1 2-3 innings his previous start, last Friday against Cleveland. He threw a four-hit shutout at Toronto his start before that. With another no-decision, he is 4-0 in seven starts since last being charged with a loss July 2 against Florida.
Josh Hamilton led off the Rangers fourth by pulling a liner into the seats in right field for his 14th homer.
An inning later, catcher Yorvit Torrealba led off with an infield single after catcher Miguel Olivo couldn’t hold onto a foul pop near the Rangers dugout. Ian Kinsler’s towering flyball fell just behind the 14-foot wall in left field for his 18th homer and a 3-all tie. Hamilton’s inning-ending grounder stranded Elvis Andrus at third base after he had doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Robinson was bowled over while being tagged out by Torrealba in a rundown in the fourth. Robinson started running on a hard chopper to third baseman Michael Young, who immediately threw home.
While trying to avoid being tagged, Robinson twisted his body while going into a spinning squat anticipating a throw. But Torrealba held on to the ball and ended up colliding and then falling over the runner.
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