Gutierrez's 3-run shot good enough for M's
While the rest of Franklin Gutierrez's Seattle teammates celebrated his three-run homer in the eighth inning against Texas on Thursday night, Mariners closer David Aardsma stayed focused and in the moment.
"It was awesome. It was amazing, but I was already kind of throwing, just in case," said Aardsma, who worked the ninth inning of the 3-1 victory over the Rangers for his 18th save. "I can't enjoy it. I can't go out and celebrate it because I have to get ready.
"It's kind of that negative point. I wish I could cheer and give high-fives like everyone else was, all my teammates. But I have to do my job. I don't get to enjoy it until after the game."
Aardsma had something else on his mind.
Just 24 hours earlier he had his second blown save of the season, allowing five runs without getting an out in a 5-3 loss to Baltimore.
"He's a competitor. He wants the ball in his hand. You can't take that away from him," Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. said. "Yesterday was yesterday. He's like anyone in the bullpen, half nuts, half crazy. He forgot about it. He had a job to do and he got it done today."
Ichiro Suzuki, who had three hits to raise his major league-leading average to .361, opened the eighth with a single off C.J. Wilson (4-4). After two outs, Griffey walked and Gutierrez launched a 1-0 fastball into the bleachers in center field.
"I wasn't sure if it was out, but I felt like I hit it good," said Gutierrez, who was given a curtain call. "You never know when you hit it to center field here. When I first hit it and saw it go out I was pretty excited. This was a great victory. We have had some tough losses the last two games."
Felix Hernandez (9-3), heading to his first All-Star game, went eight innings, allowing one run and three hits, striking out seven and walking two.
During the Mariners' half of the eighth inning, Hernandez sat on the bench with a towel over his head.
"I see it after the ball got out of the park," Hernandez said. "It was a great win."
Wilson, who had not given up a home run since June 4, said the pitch to Gutierrez "was supposed to be down and away and it cut back a little bit. It didn't have the action I wanted it - not in the right spot."
Rangers rookie Tommy Hunter, making his seventh major league start, went six innings, allowing four hits, walking three and striking out four.
The Mariners got a runner to second base three times against Hunter, but couldn't advance any of them. Their biggest threat was in the second when Griffey opened with a walk and Gutierrez singled, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. Ryan Langerhans lined out to right, Chris Woodward struck out and Rob Johnson bounced out.
Hernandez ran into his only trouble in the sixth. He retired the first two batters on three pitches, then Ian Kinsler walked and Michael Young singled to center. On a 2-2 pitch to Josh Hamilton, they pulled off a double steal. On the next pitch, Hernandez's fastball skipped into the dirt and off catcher Rob Johnson's glove for a wild pitch, allowing Kinsler to score.
"I thought we were set up perfectly with who we had in the game but we didn't get it done," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They won the game tonight. We didn't give it to them."
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said, given the chance, he wanted Aardsma in another save situation as soon as possible.
"He gave up (five) runs last night, but we put him right back on the horse and he gave us a 1-2-3 inning," he said. "It was great for him mentally and great for the team. This shows that he's for real."
The Rangers had been 39-1 when leading after seven innings. This was the sixth time the Mariners have come back to win when trailing after seven innings.
The Mariners sent LHP Jason Vargas to Triple-A Tacoma to control his innings and refine his delivery. He was 3-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 starts. The club does not need a fifth starter until July 25. ... INF Chris Shelton was called up to replace Vargas on the roster. He played third in Tacoma out of necessity. Manager Don Wakamatsu will use him the DH against left-handers and occasionally at first base. ... SS Yuniesky Betancourt, on a rehab assignment in Tacoma (hamstring), is expected to play one more game Friday and could be activated by the weekend. ... Texas 3B Hank Blalock had his third consecutive multihit game. ... Young is hitting .500 (12 of 24) against Seattle.