Mariners 8, Rangers 6

The Texas Rangers are seeing their lead in the American League

West slip away.

Justin Smoak homered in the eighth inning and drove in a run in

the ninth for Seattle to beat Texas 8-6 on Saturday night.

Texas lead in the division slipped to two games over Oakland,

which beat Baltimore 5-2. It’s as close as anyone has been to the

Rangers since April 13 when the Rangers also led the division by

two games.

The Rangers will play their final 17 games against AL West

teams, including six against the Angels and seven against the

A’s.

Texas trailed 6-0 early before tying the game in the sixth

inning.

”We fell behind early, and we fought and got back in it,”

Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ”But we just couldn’t stop

them.”

Smoak had three hits, two runs and three RBIs, helping Seattle

build a 6-0 lead in the first three innings while sending Texas

starter Scott Feldman to the bench after just 2 2-3 innings.

Feldman, who had lost his last five starts going into the game,

threw 71 pitches.

Dustin Ackley homered to lead off the third and Michael Saunders

had a two-run triple. Saunders also had a RBI single in the first.

Smoak scored Saunders with a single and Eric Thames plated Smoak to

make it 6-0.

”They did hit some good pitches,” Feldman said. ”There were

some pitches I threw where I wanted to and they hit them and others

that got a little too much plate.

Martin Perez kept the Rangers in the game in relief of Feldman.

He retired 13 of the 15 batters he faced, only allowing a walk and

hitting a batter. He struck out five and became the first Texas

reliever with over 4 1-3 innings pitched to allow no hits and no

runs since Mark Brandenburg did the same in 4 2-3 innings against

Seattle on July 6, 1996.

”I thought he was great,” Washington said. ”The kid came in

and kept the ball down in the zone and had a good change up and was

aggressive. He threw the ball extremely well.”

Texas got on the board in the third after Seattle starter Jason

Vargas walked the bases loaded. Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly scored

a run for the Rangers to make it 6-1, but Vargas struck out Michael

Young to end the inning.

In the sixth, catcher Mike Napoli, in his first start after a

stint on the 15-day disabled list because of a left quadriceps

strain, hit a three-run home run to bring the Rangers within two,

6-4.

Napoli made his last rehab start at DH on Friday night for

Double A Frisco by going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Going into

Saturday’s game against the Mariners, Napoli joked that he told his

Rangers teammates that he got those out of the way and `’left the

strikeouts down there.”

Cruz had an RBI single in the sixth and David Murphy a

run-scoring ground out to tie it.

”This team never quits,” Feldman said. ”We kind of take it

for granted sometimes what a competitive team we have and what a

good team we have. They fought their way back and almost pulled it

off in the end.”

With the game tied 6-6 in the eighth, Tanner Scheppers relieved

Perez and Smoak led off the inning with his 15th homer. He then had

an RBI single in the ninth that scored John Jaso. Sheppers (1-1)

took the loss, and after the game, Washington said he pulled Perez

because he, ”just felt like (Perez) was finished.”

Lucas Luetge (2-1) got two outs for the Seattle victory while

Tom Wilhelmsen got the final four outs for his 27th save in 30

chances.

NOTES: After the game, Texas recalled RHP Justin Grimm and RHP

Wilmer Font from Double-A Frisco to give the Rangers 34 active

players for Sunday’s game. Grimm had a prior stint with Texas from

June 16-July 6, while Font is looking for his Major League debut.

.Mariners RF Casper Wells was a late scratch and was replaced by

Eric Thames in right field. ”He took a swing in the cage an his

neck locked up pretty good on him,” Manager Eric Wedge said about

Wells. .Wedge reiterated that the team is going to give RHP Kevin

Millwood time to recover from shoulder stiffness, plugging in RHP

Erasmo Ramirez and RHP Hector Noesi. ”We’ll see if (Millwood’s)

going to pitch again,” Wedge said.