Rangers 9, Mariners 6
SEATTLE (AP)—Kenny Rogers isn’t thinking about the All-Star game just yet.
The 39-year-old Rogers (11-2), who hasn’t lost since May 9, pitched into the sixth and won his seventh straight decision. At this rate, he could be taking the mound to start for the American League two weeks from now in Houston.
“I’ve got two more for the team I play for, first and foremost,” Rogers said. “The next one’s in Cleveland and one more after that with Boston. After that, we’ll think about it and see what happens.”
He faced one batter in the sixth, allowing three runs on six hits and struck out three. The Rangers also got strong relief appearances by Frank Francisco and Brian Shouse and a solo homer by Mark Teixeira.
“I don’t think about what’s going to happen or what someone envisions,” Rogers said when asked about the All-Star game. “I know there are a lot of guys on this club that should be going.”
Texas was 22 games behind first-place Seattle at this point last season, but the AL West-leading Rangers (44-31) are only one game behind the best start in team history after 75 games, set in 1996.
Francisco pitched two scoreless innings, and Francisco Cordero came in with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth. He gave up a two-run single to Ichiro Suzuki before getting Randy Winn to line out to left—Cordero’s 24th save in 26 chances.
“Frankie’s innings were the key to the game,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “And it doesn’t go without saying, Coco was big at the end.”
Teixeira extended the lead to 8-3 with a solo homer in the eighth inning, and Rod Barajas added an RBI double in the ninth.
The Rangers collected nine of their 16 hits and built a 5-0 third-inning lead against rookie Clint Nageotte (1-4), who lost his third straight start in his fifth big league appearance.
Rogers was perfect through three innings, and the Rangers appeared ready to coast with their 5-0 lead, built on David Dellucci’s two-RBI single and a run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly by Barajas.
Then, the Mariners attacked in the fourth.
“We got him out of there, probably earlier than a lot of teams have this year,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said.
Winn drove a 1-1 pitch from Rogers for a two-run homer that pulled Seattle to 5-2 after Suzuki’s leadoff single. The ball went over the wall in left, just beyond Dellucci’s reach.
“It didn’t bother me because we were up 5-0,” Rogers said. “It kind of started a little roll for them. It got them back into the game a little.”
In the eighth, Michael Young hit a leadoff single and Blalock followed by hitting an 0-1 pitch from Julio Mateo for his 21st homer to give Texas a 7-3 lead in the eighth. The homer kept Blalock tied with Boston’s David Ortiz for the AL lead.
Two outs later, Teixeira drove a 1-1 pitch from Mateo just over the wall in right.
Nageotte, called up from Triple-A Tacoma on May 28, left after walking Brad Fullmer and Teixeira with two outs in the fourth.
Nageotte pitched 3 2-3 innings, struggling much of the time with his control. He allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks and one strikeout. He also threw a wild pitch and hit one batter.
“I fell behind some hitters,” Nageotte said. “Even with a team thatswings the bat early in the count, you have to make quality pitches.”
The Rangers tied a team record for most homers in June—44. The previous mark was set in 2001. … Rogers came in with a 7-9 lifetime record against Seattle, allowing a .354 average. He was hit in the hand by Suzuki’sgrounder in the fifth but, after two extra warmup tosses, kept pitching.