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SEATTLE (AP) — Michael Saunders hit a solo home run in the second inning, former Texas prospect Blake Beavan threw seven shutout innings against his former club, and the Seattle Mariners kept the Rangers from extending their lead in the AL West with a 1-0 win on Saturday night.
Seattle took the first two games in the weekend series — handing the Rangers consecutive defeats for the first time in more than a month — and finally solved Matt Harrison’s mastery of the Mariners.
Harrison (17-10) had won nine straight times against Seattle, the second-longest streak in Rangers’ history against one team, but was not able to extend the roll despite holding the Mariners to just the homer by Saunders.
Texas remained four games ahead of Oakland in the division race after the A’s lost earlier in the day.
Beavan (10-10) worked into the eighth inning for the third time this season, before giving way to the bullpen. Josh Kinney pitched through a jam in the eighth and Tom Wilhelmsen worked the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances.
Texas has now lost two straight for the first time since dropping three consecutive to the Yankees in the middle of August. The Rangers missed a chance to put additional distance between themselves and Oakland in the AL West race after the A’s fell 10-9 to the New York Yankees in 14 innings earlier Saturday.
Texas will head into the final game of its road trip on Sunday against Seattle before heading home for seven critical games — four versus Oakland and three against the Angels — that could finally cinch the division race.
Harrison was trying to become the first pitcher to win five decisions against Seattle in a season and tie Kenny Rogers’ franchise record for most wins by a left-hander. Outside of the homer to Saunders — his 17th of the season — Harrison did enough to earn the victory. Harrison allowed just seven hits, struck out six but tied a season-high with four walks.
He nearly didn’t make it out of the fourth inning after giving up consecutive singles to Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero and a walk to Justin Smoak, loading the bases with no outs. With Roy Oswalt warming up in the bullpen, Harrison got a broken-bat lineout from Saunders, struck Alex Liddi on a high fastball and saw Luis Jimenez ground out to first to end the threat.
Beavan, who came to Seattle in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season, allowed a runner to reach base in the first six innings, but escaped every scoring threat from the Rangers. Ian Kinsler was left stranded at third base in the first inning, but the Rangers best chance was cut down at the plate in the fourth. Nelson Cruz tried scoring from first with two outs on David Murphy’s double into the right field corner. The relay throw from Casper Wells to Seager was on target and his throw to Montero beat Cruz by 10 feet.
Beavan also got key double plays in the third and fifth innings and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Texas knocked out Beavan in the eighth after a leadoff double from Mitch Moreland and a walk to Craig Gentry. Seattle went to Kinney, who struck out Kinsler after he was unable to twice get a bunt down. Elvis Andrus flew out to center for the second out Michael Young struck out to end the threat.
The Rangers welcomed Adrian Beltre back to the lineup after he missed Friday’s series opener while getting tests in Southern California to determine the cause of his stomach troubles. Doctors believe Beltre has scar tissue from a previous surgery pressing against his intestines and causing the pain. Beltre intends on playing through the discomfort and had one hit in his return.
NOTES: Seattle is now 6-3 in 1-0 games this season. … Texas DH Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth. … Fergie Jenkins is the only Texas pitcher to defeat an opponent five times in one season, doing it to Minnesota and Oakland in 1974.
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