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Texas snaps Mariners' four-game winning streak
Two-run triple by Elvis Andrus, RBI double by Josh Hamilton spark Rangers to 3-1 victory. The Mariners' Hector Noesi allows three hits in eight innings.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Texas @ M's, 12:40 p.m., ROOT Sports
In a game that saw small mistakes magnified, the Mariners made a few too many to have any hope of their winning streak continuing.
Instead, it was snapped at four in a 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night when one breaking ball didn't break, one runner was stopped too soon and two hitters swung at ball four. Other than that, the Mariners and starting pitcher Hector Noesi may very well have taken out Texas for a second consecutive night.
Noesi pitched another eight strong innings, but gave up the only runs needed by the visitors when a two-strike breaking ball to Elvis Andrus in the third inning missed its target in a big way.
"It was a mistake," Noesi admitted, saying later he was aiming for "the ground" on the 1-2 belt-high offering.
Andrus promptly hammered the ball to the left-center gap for a two-run triple to erase a 1-0 lead for the home side. Josh Hamilton hit a ground-rule double on the next pitch to bring in the final run of the game.
The crowd of 15,604 at Safeco Field saw the Rangers notch just two more singles to finish with four hits on the night. But they were enough as the Mariners swung their way out of a critical eighth inning after having failed to run their way to a fifth-inning score the Rangers had practically handed them.
Noesi enjoyed one of his best outings this season, going eight innings while striking out seven and allowing just three hits. But he never could overcome the one mistake to Andrus.
"For me, I just throw pitch-by-pitch," Noesi said. "It was a mistake, the curveball, but I've got to keep going. I can't think about that. It was in the past."
Mariners third-base coach Jeff Datz likely went to bed thinking about his decision to hold Brendan Ryan at third base in the fifth. Ryan was on second after a double when third baseman Adrian Beltre bobbled a hard grounder and had the ball roll behind him to the outfield grass.
Ryan rounded third base hard and likely would have scored easily had Datz not applied the stop sign and ordered him back. Ichiro grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning and the crowd booed Datz vociferously.
"I had a good view of that and I screwed it up," Datz admitted. "With two outs, I saw the ball hit off Beltre and I didn't think it was going to roll that far.
"He (Ryan) did his job and I stopped him. I screwed it up. I feel lousy about it."
The lack of a score loomed large as Rangers starter Matt Harrison settled into a groove and didn't give the Mariners much. Harrison had given up a first-inning run on a Justin Smoak single, then nearly allowed a grand slam to Casper Wells before a sprinting Hamilton hauled the ball in at the wall.
Hamilton later took a potential extra-base hit — and nearly another home run — away from Alex Liddi with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the third.
"I thought it had a chance and it was going to go out," Liddi said. "But then, he made a great play and he caught it."
Scoring opportunities were few and far between after that as southpaw pitcher Harrison — now 7-1 with a 2.54 earned-run average lifetime against Seattle — carried the two-run lead into the eighth.
The Mariners had their final shot that frame as Liddi and Ichiro opened with singles. But tough Rangers setup man Mike Adams came on and got a fly out from Jesus Montero, then saw Smoak and Kyle Seager chase full-count fastballs off the plate for strikeouts that ended the threat.
"I felt like we got a little anxious with two strikes there at the end," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That's really what stuck out to me. We want our guys up there ready to hit and they are, but I felt like we just expanded a little too much with two strikes there at the end."
Wedge was pleased by the "outstanding" work from Noesi aside from the lone bad pitch to Andrus.
"He gave us every opportunity to win the ballgame," Wedge said.
But the Mariners, in a game decided by a handful of plays, could not return the favor.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com