Mariners 8, Rangers 2

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SEATTLE (AP)—Gil Meche has been an inspiration to his teammates this season. He wants them to know he’s not finished yet.

Meche got through a first-inning jam and pitched eight steady innings for his 15th win, and Randy Winn had three hits as the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-2 on Thursday night.

Meche (15-10) spent last season in the minors following two shoulder operations.

“After all I’ve been through, I’m just glad to be at this point,” he said. “It’s great to have a lot of wins, but really I’m just glad to be pitching. I’m healthy. I feel better now than I did at the beginning of the year.”

The last major league pitcher to win more than 14 games after a two-year absence was Whitey Ford, who went 18-6 in 1953 for the New York Yankees after returning from military service during the Korean War.

“It’s a cool thing to have, but I wouldn’t say it means a whole lot to me,” Meche said. “I just want to keep on winning. I’ve got three more starts and I hope I can win some more.”

Seattle took two of three from Texas, which has never won a series at Safeco Field in 11 visits. The Mariners stayed 2 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West and moved within 1 1/2 games of Boston for the wild card.

Meche, who allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and four walks, recovered from a shaky start. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead and loaded the bases with one out in the first, but he got Shane Spencer to foul out and struck out Laynce Nix.

“Even though they scored a run, I think the momentum changed right there,” catcher Ben Davis said.

Seattle’s bats supported Meche with 10 hits. Kazuhiro Sasaki worked a perfect ninth, his first appearance since last Friday.

Winn, who drove in a run on a ground-rule double in the second, showed some craftiness with a two-out bunt single in the fourth, and Mark McLemore’s timely hitting drove in two runs.

“That’s our style of game,” Winn said. “That’s what we’ve done to this point to get where we are. We’ll continue to do it—get guys on, get some clutch hits.”

The defense was solid, too, with center fielder Mike Cameron making two tough, over-the-shoulder catches.

“Cammie was the player of the game,” Davis said. “He played tremendous defense out there. We definitely came together tonight. We were very patient at the plate. It paid off with our walks. We capitalized on it.”

The Mariners stretched the lead to 6-2 in the fifth, scoring three runs on two hits and three walks.

Texas starter Mickey Callaway (1-7) faced four batters in the inning, leaving after Edgar Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk to put Seattle ahead 4-2. Callaway allowed six hits with five strikeouts, four walks and one wild pitch.

“The last inning kind of fell apart,” Callaway said. “Three walks, I can’t remember the last time that happened. You can’t do that and keep your team in the game.”

Ichiro Suzuki started the fifth with a single, then stole second. Callaway walked Carlos Guillen, Bret Boone and Martinez before Texas manager Buck Showalter turned to lefty Aaron Fultz.

Guillen scored when John Olerud hit into a double play, and Cameron lined a shot past shortstop Alex Rodriguez to score Boone and make it 6-2.

The Rangers got on the board first when Michael Young scored on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez for the first out of the game.

The Mariners manufactured another run in the fourth to make it 3-1. Winn surprised the defense with his two-out bunt single, went to second on a wildpitch and scored when McLemore singled to center.


Members of regional fire, police and EMT departments joined players from both teams on the baselines during a moment of silence and the national anthem as a giant flag was unfurled in center field to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001. … Rafael Palmeiro played in game No. 2,550, passing Paul Waner for 35th place on the career list. … Suzuki’s fifth-inning single tied Waner (1926-28) for the most hits in a player’s first three seasons at 640. … Winn stole his 20th base, the 100th of his career, in the second. … The roof was closed forthe second straight night.

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