Garcia went 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA in six June starts, earning the American League’s pitcher of the month award. He has won six straight decisions overall, and is unbeaten in his last seven starts dating to a dismal outing in a 15-4 setback to Kansas City on May 21.
The right-hander was in line to win his seventh straight start Sunday in San Diego, but the Mariners’ bullpen imploded in an 8-6 loss to the Padres. Garcia surrendered just one run and five hits over six innings, marking the fourth time in five outings he surrendered a run or fewer.
Garcia’s spectacular month helped him recover from a brutal May in which he went 2-3 with an unsightly 7.22 ERA.
“That is very well deserved, considering all the things he had to go through early in the year,” Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price said. “This is a real testament to him turning it around.”
Garcia, who dropped six of his first nine decisions this season, is just happy to be contributing again.
“It’s nice (to get the award),” he said. “It means I had a good month, but it’s especially good because I was 3-6 and a lot of stuff was being said about me.”
The Mariners are coming off a four-game split with Oakland, maintaining their six-game lead over the Athletics in the AL West.
The Rangers earned a split of their four-game series at Anaheim with Thursday’s 6-5 victory. Hank Blalock homered twice and doubled for Texas, which went 4-3 on its road trip.
The Rangers have lost six of their last eight at home.
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place, AL West. Rangers - 4th place, 21 GB, AL West.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Garcia (9-6, 4.13 ERA). Garcia is 4-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 12 career starts against the Rangers.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Victor Santos (0-2, 5.85 ERA). After yielding one run and two hits over 4 2-3 innings in three relief outings, Santos will make his first start since a 4-3 loss at Oakland on June 17. The right-hander is winless in three starts this year, surrendering 13 runs over 15 1-3 innings in those outings. He has tossed 1 2-3 scoreless innings in two career relief appearances against the Mariners.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .345 avg. and 21 SBs; Bret Boone, 22 HRs and 70 RBIs; Suzuki and Boone, 62 runs. Rangers - Blalock, .332 avg.; Alex Rodriguez, 21 HRs and 56 runs; Juan Gonzalez, 54 RBIs; Michael Young and Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - 1B John Olerud has missed three straight games with a strained right hamstring. … Seattle has not lost a series to an AL opponent since dropping two of three to Minnesota from May 23-25 at Safeco Field. … DH Edgar Martinez is riding a six-game hitting streak, and has homered in consecutive games for the first time since May 31-June 1. Rangers - RHP Ugueth Urbina leads the AL with 23 saves. … RF Gonzalez, who has missed 13 of the Rangers’ last 22 games because of various ailments, started and had two hits after undergoing an MRI exam Thursday on his sore left quadriceps muscle. Results weren’t immediately available. Gonzalez said the muscle hurts when he runs. … RHP Jeff Zimmerman, on the disabled list all season following elbow surgery last summer, cut his simulated game short Thursday after feeling soreness in his right forearm. Zimmerman threw 23 pitches and stopped after facing two batters in the second inning. The soreness was not thought to be related to his elbow surgery, and he will be re-evaluated before throwing again.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 30-13 on the road; Rangers - 18-23 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - 1B Olerud (hamstring), day-to-day; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL. Rangers - LHP Aaron Fultz (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.