Hunter gets down to business, beats M’s

Rangers rookie Tommy Hunter had fun during a long rain delay. Then he got down to business.

Hunter threw a six-hitter for his first complete game and the Rangers hit three homers to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-2 in the opener of a doubleheader Sunday.

Rain that pelted the area for the past four days caused the game to begin 4 hours, 31 minutes after the originally scheduled start time of 12:35 p.m. It was a makeup of Friday night’s rainout.

Hunter arrived at the ballpark at 8:45 a.m., and spent the downtime playing cards, pingpong and video games, including Ken Griffey Jr. Slugfest.

Griffey went 0 for 4 in the game.

“We just tried to waste time,” Hunter said. “Everybody’s a little kid in there, jumping around and having fun.”

Hunter (8-3) struck out three and walked one in his 15th big league start, polishing off his first professional complete game with 102 pitches.

“Something you want to do. Something you need to go out and get done,” Hunter said. “Just being able to get the ball down helped me out today. Keeping the ball down, especially in this ballpark, is key.”

Chris Davis, David Murphy and Nelson Cruz connected for the Rangers, who began the day three games behind Boston for the AL wild card. The Red Sox swept a doubleheader from slumping Tampa Bay at Fenway Park.

Ichiro Suzuki doubled in four at-bats, leaving him one hit shy of setting a major league record with his ninth straight 200-hit season. In the second inning of the nightcap, he accomplished the feat with an infield single.

Suzuki received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd. He stepped off first base and doffed his batting helmet. The speedy outfielder had been tied with Hall of Famer “Wee” Willie Keeler, who had eight consecutive 200-hit seasons from 1894-1901.

Texas, which has won eight of 11, was playing its third doubleheader this month due to rainouts.

“From the first pitch of the game we were ready,” manager Ron Washington said. “We went out there and put a solid ballgame together.”

Esteban German had two doubles and reached base three times for Texas.

Suzuki knocked in Seattle’s first run with his third-inning double off Hunter that pulled the Mariners to 2-1.

Seattle rookie Doug Fister (2-2) gave up five runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings. It was his seventh major league start.

Marlon Byrd‘s RBI groundout in the first and Davis’ solo homer in the second gave Texas a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth, German’s run-scoring double and Julio Borbon‘s RBI single pushed the advantage to 4-1. Murphy’s solo drive in the fifth, Andrus’ sacrifice fly in the sixth and Cruz’s solo homer in the seventh made it 7-1.

Fister said marking time in the clubhouse for more than 4 hours before taking the mound should not have been a distraction, but he had his shortest major league start.

“That shouldn’t be a factor,” Fister said. “That doesn’t play into going out and performing. Today I struggled to keep the ball in the right location and it showed. The key is keeping the ball down. When it doesn’t happen, I get results like this.”

The Rangers are still missing two All-Stars: outfielder Josh Hamilton and third baseman Michael Young. Hamilton has missed the last eight games with a pinched nerve in his back and Young has sat out the past nine with a strained left hamstring.

Both could return for this weekend’s series against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.

Seattle has lost six of seven.

Notes

The Rangers are 10-5 against the Mariners this season and 25-14 against the AL West. … With a first-inning infield single, Andrus extended his hitting streak to 14 games, longest by an AL rookie this season. … Struggling Rangers RHP Kevin Millwood had a pregame bullpen session in an attempt to sort out some mechanical issues following another disappointing start Saturday night. Washington said Millwood is still set to take his regular turn in the rotation Friday night against the Angels. Millwood pitched only 3 2-3 innings Friday in an 8-3 loss to Seattle, his shortest outing this season. He has lasted less than six innings in five of his past six starts.