ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The Texas Rangers might not be in a must-win situation yet, but they’re hurting their playoff chances with each loss.
“Any loss at this point is a tough loss,” shortstop Michael Young said. “We realize this loss is not the end of the season, but it does make it tougher on us.”
The Rangers started their final homestand with a three-game sweep of AL West-leading Oakland, against the starting trio of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. They got within two games, but missed out on a chance to get closer by losing two of three to Seattle.
The Rangers remained two back after the Athletics lost 6-2 Sunday night at Anaheim. The Angels, who are one game out of first, begin a four-game series in Texas on Monday.
A surprise contender after four straight last-place finishes, the Rangers end the regular season next weekend at Seattle.
“What’s shorter than a sprint? A dash. How about a leap?” manager Buck Showalter said. “There is still an opportunity for us if we keep grinding.”
Ichiro Suzuki moved within six of the season hits record, going 1-for-4 with an intentional walk. His sixth-inning single raised his total to 251 with seven games remaining to reach the record of 257, set by George Sisler in 1920.
Baek (2-4) allowed just three hits in eight innings, and Atchison pitched a perfect ninth to complete Seattle’s seventh shutout of the season.
“To shut out this team in this ballpark is impressive. It’s about as good as it gets,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s nice to do this in a playoff-type atmosphere. It’s not like this makes our season. We’re just trying to go out there and win games.”
The Mariners are trying to avoid 100 losses just three years after winning 116.
No. 9 hitter Jose Lopez with 2-for-3 with four RBIs for the Mariners (60-95), who also took two of three from Anaheim to win consecutive series for the first time since the first week of May.
Ryan Drese (14-9) had won his three previous starts and had a 2.87 ERA at home but gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.
“My ball was just flat as an arrow. My off-speed pitches were up in the zone,” Drese said.
Baek threw 114 pitches in just his fifth major league start, escaping a two-on jam in the eighth when he threw a called third strike past Hank Blalock.
A two-run double by Lopez in the second came just two pitches after a disputed call that would’ve ended the inning.
Raul Ibanez, whose team-record streak of nine straight hits ended Saturday night, led off the second with his 16th homer for a 1-0 lead.
Bret Boone and Jeremy Reed followed with consecutive singles, and Miguel Olivo popped out on an attempted bunt. Greg Dobbs then hit a grounder and was ruled safe by first-base umpire Ed Montague, avoiding an inning-ending double play.
Showalter and Drese, who was covering first, argued the call. Replays showed that Dobbs may have been out.
“It didn’t change the fact that we had a chance to get out of that,” Drese said. “I hung a slider. That was a stupid pitch in that situation.”
Lopez hit the pitch deep to left to for a two-run double, and scored on Randy Winn’s double for a 4-0 lead.
Montague left the game before the start of the fifth because of high blood pressure. Rangers spokesman Gregg Elkin said Montague was taken to Arlington Memorial Hospital for observation. Nursing supervisor Mary Lee Drozd said Montague was in good condition Sunday night.
Olivo stopped an 0-for-31 slump with a leadoff single in the fourth, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lopez. Ibanez added a double in the fifth and scored on Boone’s single that made it 6-0, chasing Drese.
Laynce Nix had two of Texas’ hits, including a one-out triple in the third.
“We’re not deflated,” Young said. “We’re a good team and we’ve got some good baseball in us. September baseball … this is fun for us.”
Suzuki has 215 singles, a major league record. … Hughes was the 52nd player used by the Rangers this season, tying a team record. They’ve used a team-record 30 pitchers. … Mariners DH Edgar Martinez, who is retiring, got a nice ovation when he was replaced for a pinch runner after his single in the ninth.