Mariners 4, Rangers 2

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SEATTLE (AP)—Joel Pineiro knew he would regain command of his curveball, and that victories would follow.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer, Bret Boone and Scott Spiezio added solo shots, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 Sunday for their first series victory this season.

Pineiro (1-1) allowed two runs, six hits and four walks in 6 2-3 innings and struck out five, a strong recovery after he was roughed up in his first two starts after signing a $14.5 million, three-year contract.

“You get rewarded for what you’ve done and for what you’ll hopefully do, so that’s in the past,” said Pineiro, a 16-game winner last year. “I don’t worry about contracts. I just want to be myself, be aggressive.”

Pitching coach Bryan Price cautioned against expecting Pineiro to turn into an ace because he signed a new deal.

“It says we really like this guy. We really think he can do a super job,” Price said. “But you can’t always attach the dollar figure with the performance. He’s still a young guy. He’s going to have periods of greatness and times of struggle.”

Pineiro blew a 4-0 lead by allowing a pair of two-run homers in a no-decision at Anaheim last week and gave up eight runs in an April 7 loss to the Angels. The Mariners never worried, though, about their No. 2 starter.

“He’s a competitor,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s got what it takes to be a top-line American League starter. He got off to a slow start. For him to come back the way he did today, that’s exactly what we expect out of him.”

This time, Pineiro had better command of his curve.

“I was throwing my curveball a little more. It made my fastball better,” he said. “I could throw it backdoor, down in the dirt, when I needed a strikeout. I feel pretty good about that.”

Trailing 3-2, Texas threatened in the eighth when David Dellucci was hit by a pitch from Ron Villone with two outs, but Shigetoshi Hasegawa came on to strike out Kevin Mench.

Spiezio hit a solo homer off Jay Powell in the bottom half, and Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect the ninth for his second save of the season and the weekend.

“Their pitching was outstanding,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “Hasegawa, a guy that closed really well for them, is setting up. Guardado is healthy and back. The difference was Pineiro and their bullpen.”

After losing the series opener Friday, the Mariners recovered to win the last two of the three-game set.

Seattle trailed 2-1 in the sixth after Boone drove a 1-0 pitch from Ryan Drese over the left-field scoreboard.

John Olerud flied out, but Spiezio lined a single down the line in right. Showalter brought in lefty reliever Erasmo Ramirez (0-1), who threw a 1-2 pitch that Ibanez sent over the wall near the right-field corner.

“I fell behind with a two-strike count,” Ibanez said. “He threw me a changeup, which is his out pitch. Then he threw me the same pitch again and I just tried to stay back and hit it through the middle.”

Texas led 2-0 in the second after Michael Young’s two-out, two-run single. Pineiro has allowed 14 runs this year, all with two outs, but he retired 12 of his next 16 batters before Villone relieved.

“It ended up working well,” Melvin said. “Sometimes, you just keepgetting tested. When you come through, it feels that much better.”


Texas hasn’t won a series in Seattle since April 13-15, 1999, sweeping a three-game set at the Kingdome. The Rangers are 0-12-1 in 13 series since Safeco Field opened in July 1999. … Retired Orioles standout Cal Ripken, in town to promote a book, received a standing ovation when he was introduced before the fourth. … The Mariners have hit seven homers this year, fewest in the AL. Boone has four. … Gonzalez, the top pick in the 2000 amateur draft, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma last weekwhen 1B Mark Teixeira went on the DL with a strained muscle on his left side.

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