Rangers 9, Mariners 8

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SEATTLE (AP)—Kenny Lofton was back.

Back even before his 1990s prime with Cleveland, when he was a perennial All-Star or Gold Glove winner. Back to the late ’80s, when he was a soaring teen guard at the University of Arizona for legendary basketball coach Lute Olson.

“But Lute never taught me how to jump,” a smiling Lofton said Friday night.

Lofton took a home run away from Adrian Beltre in the seventh by scaling a wall, then drove in the go-ahead run in the next inning with a sacrifice fly to help the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 9-8 on Friday night.

Playing one day after turning 40, the forgotten center fielder raced into left-center field, then planted his right shoe into the padded wall. He snatched the ball from the waiting arms of three shocked fans standing in a beer garden.

He then threw the ball back to the infield to double up Kenji Johjima, who was already around second base and was stunned Lofton had made the catch. Lofton wore a huge grin following the play, which saved Texas’ second win in 10 games.

Lofton said he couldn’t remember the last time he had pulled a home run back for an out. Texas manager Ron Washington was having flashbacks to those years when Lofton was with the Indians.

“I used to see him make those catches a lot,” Washington said. “That saved the game.”

So did Eric Gagne, who struck out Richie Sexson with a man on in the ninth for his fourth save.

Sexson had three hits before that, including a solo home run in the eighth off Joaquin Benoit (2-1) to tie the game at 8. That came after Texas had taken an 8-7 lead in the seventh on Victor Diaz’s double off Sean Green (0-1).

Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-5 and extended his career-best hitting streak to 25 games, a Seattle record. He hit Millwood’s second pitch off shortstop Michael Young’s glove in short left field. The longest hitting streak in the majors this season broke the Mariners’ previous mark set by Joey Cora in 1997.

As Suzuki stood on first base amid a loud standing ovation after his record-setting hit, the six-time All-Star smiled, took off his batting helmet and tipped it toward the fans at Safeco Field. He then stole second—his 12th stolen base during the streak—moved to third on a groundout by Jose Vidro and scored on Jose Guillen’s sacrifice fly.

“I’m not making it a goal or anything,” Suzuki said of the streak. “But being alone for the number one spot makes me happy.”

Texas ace Kevin Millwood, starting for just the second time in five weeks because of a strained hamstring, allowed seven runs—four earned—and 10 hits in five innings. He entered Friday having thrown just 1 2-3 innings since April 28 following two trips to the disabled list.

Millwood struck out four and threw 84 pitches—nine more than pitching coach Mark Connors had hope to get from him.

“I threw the ball where I wanted to most of the night … but felt I didn’t have any luck whatsoever,” said Millwood, who expects to be able to throw into the 100-pitch range in his next start.

“It was huge just having him back,” said Washington, whose starting staff has been the worst in the majors without Millwood.

Texas, which tied a team record by stranding 17 runners, tied the game in the second and then took a 4-1 lead in the third off Jarrod Washburn, who lasted 3 2-3 innings and allowed four earned runs. He walked a season-high four in his shortest start of the season.

Mark Teixeira, with one hit in his previous 11 at-bats, doubled behind Michael Young’s single to begin the third. Young scored on Diaz’s sacrifice fly and Teixeira scored on a single by Marlon Byrd.

But as Teixeira was sliding feet first into home, Suzuki’s throw from center field banged off the left side of his face and caromed to the dugout railing. A trainer met Teixeira on his way into the dugout and then examined Teixeira’s face on the bench, as Teixeira squinted and winced.

Mariners Dr. Mitch Storey examined Teixeira and diagnosed a mild concussion. He did not return to the game and Washington said he will wait for a reevaluation on Saturday to see if Teixeira will extend his streak of 501 consecutive games played.

Seattle tied it at 4 in the bottom of the third on a two-run single by Raul Ibanez and an RBI single from Sexson.

But Washburn couldn’t hold the tie. Sammy Sosa, who was in a 2-for-21 slump, hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Then after Seattle took a 7-5 in the fourth, Washburn walked Gerald Laird and hit Matt Kata with a pitch to begin the fifth. Both scored to tie it again at 7.

Notes

Japanese figure skater Shizuka Arakawa, a gold medalist from last year’s Olympics, was in the crowd and saw her countryman Suzuki’s record-setting hit. … Bench coach John McLaren subbed the last few innings for manager Mike Hargrove and will do so through Sunday. Hargrove left to attend the high school graduation of his youngest daughter in Ohio. … Guillen left the game in the sixth after his right elbow tightened. He was hit there by a pitch from Millwood in the third. … Beltre left the game in the eighth with a sprained left thumb.

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