Ryan Franklin ended his worst stretch of the season with the best outing of his career.
Franklin had gone winless in five straight starts, yielding 19 runs over 31 2-3 innings, before tossing his first career shutout in a 6-0 victory over Oakland on Wednesday. He yielded just two hits, struck out three and walked three, finishing what he started for the first time in 105 major league starts.
“This is No. 1,” Franklin said of the performance. “I’ve thrown complete-game shutouts in the minor leagues and no-hitters, but this is the place where you want to perform.”
The Mariners have scored a total of just 12 runs in Franklin’s eight losses, but provided him with more than enough offense Wednesday.
“Ryan’s been good all year, and we finally gave him some runs,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. “We gave him a lead early. He had everything working tonight.”
Franklin has not won consecutive starts since June 12-17.
The Mariners outscored the Rangers 15-5 in taking the first two games of this series, but were beaten 7-3 on Sunday as Alex Rodriguez celebrated his 28th birthday by going 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored.
Randy Winn homered and drove in all three runs for Seattle, which had its lead in the West shaved to just three games over surging Oakland.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 21 GB, AL West. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joaquin Benoit (5-5, 5.65 ERA). Benoit had won two straight starts before Thursday’s 10-6 loss to Anaheim. The right-hander was reached for five runs and seven hits over 3 2-3 innings, while striking out two and walking four. Benoit has yielded two runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 career innings against the Mariners.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Franklin (7-8, 3.50 ERA). Franklin has pitched well against the Rangers during his career, going 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 appearances, including three starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Michael Young, .323 avg.; Juan Gonzalez and Rodriguez, 24 HRs; Gonzalez, 70 RBIs; Rodriguez, 71 runs; Young and Rodriguez, 10 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .339 avg. and 26 SBs; Bret Boone, 27 HRs, 83 RBIs and 74 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 7-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - 1B-DH Rafael Palmeiro drove in his 1,637th run Sunday, passing Ernie Banks for 19th place on the all-time list. … Texas is winless in its last five series. … The Rangers ended a five-game road losing streak with Sunday’s win. Mariners - The Mariners have been in sole possession of the division lead since May 16 and had an eight-game lead on June 13. … Seattle allowed its first unearned run since July 6 on Sunday. The Mariners have yielded only three unearned runs in 54 games. They have allowed a major league-low 17 this season. … RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki will make a rehabilitation start Monday night at Triple-A Tacoma and probably pitch two innings, Melvin said. Sasaki has been on the disabled list since June 6 with two fractured ribs and a slightly torn abdominal muscle.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 18-34 on the road; Mariners - 30-22 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - OF Gonzalez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (hip), 15-day DL; RHP Ismael Valdes (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL. Mariners - 3B Jeff Cirillo (shoulder), 15-day DL; INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL.