Sammy Sosa’s blast helps lift Rangers over AL wild card leader Seattle 5-3
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Sammy Sosa hasn’t forgotten his trademark hop or how to hit the ball deep, even though he’s getting fewer chances to do it.
Sosa, who has become a part-time player while Texas evaluates younger players, bounded out of the batter’s box after hitting a 430-foot, two-run home run in the first inning that put the Rangers ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory over AL wild-card leader Seattle.
It was Sosa’s 605th career homer—his first in a month. The ball ricocheted off a wall at the back of the lower seating section in left field.
“I got a pretty good swing on that one. I’m not going to lie to you guys,” said Sosa, who started for only the 10th time in 26 games. “I feel good that at least I contributed to a win, especially against a team fighting to be in first place.”
Seattle still has a two-game lead in the wild-card race over the New York Yankees, who lost 5-4 at Detroit on Sunday. But the Mariners slipped two games behind the Los Angeles Angels before going home for a three-game series against the AL West leaders that begins Monday night.
Vicente Padilla (4-9) pitched into the seventh inning to win for the first time since June 15. The right-hander retired 18 of 19 batters after Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with an infield single before giving up three straight singles and a run to start the seventh.
“He established his fastball, he used his fastball well,” manager Ron Washington said. “I hope he understands how good a fastball he has, especially when he puts it where he wants to.”
Ian Kinsler led off the Texas first with a single, moved up on Brad Wilkerson’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Sosa’s homer to put the Rangers ahead 2-0.
Sosa’s last homer was July 27, five days before the Rangers—who had traded Mark Teixeira, Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne—told Sosa about their plans that would reduce the 38-year-old slugger’s playing time.
“As soon as they talked to me, I know that I’m not going to play that much,” Sosa said. “So I said to myself, because of that, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to stay ready, stay in shape. Every time they give me an opportunity, I’m going to do my job.”
After Sosa sat out last season, the Rangers gave him only a one-year deal. The team hasn’t talked about their future plans, but Sosa said he intends to play at least one more season somewhere.
Kinsler went 3-for-4 for the second straight night after a 3-for-30 slump and scored three times for the Rangers. Brad Wilkerson had a double and an RBI triple, the latter driving home Kinsler in the eighth.
Jarrod Washburn (9-11), who has won only once in his last nine starts, allowed three runs and six hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked one.
“I missed over the middle with Sosa and Padilla did a good job holding us down,” Washburn said. “I didn’t have my good stuff. My changeup was bad all night.”
Padilla, making only his third start since a nearly two-month stay on the disabled list because of right triceps irritation, didn’t give up another hit until Ben Broussard reached on a slow dribbler in the fifth that third baseman Travis Metcalf couldn’t pick up cleanly.
Seattle started the seventh with three straight singles. Adrian Beltre’s run-scoring hit chased Padilla after he threw 61 of 87 pitches for strikes. Frank Francisco then retired the only three batters he faced to get out of the seventh.
Padilla declined to talk to reporters before he left the clubhouse.
Suzuki’s majors-best 47th infield hit, his fifth in the four-game series, was a hopper that shortstop Ramon Vazquez fielded. Vazquez made a desperation throw that never had a chance to get the speedy leadoff hitter.
Kinsler had a leadoff double in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Marlon Byrd to make it 3-0. Byrd added another sacrifice fly in the eighth after Wilkerson’s triple.
The Mariners were down 5-1 before scoring twice in the ninth off C.J. Wilson, the Rangers’ closer since Gagne was traded to Boston. Kenji Jojhima’s RBI single was the third straight two-out hit before a wild pitch allowed another run.
Sosa is fifth on the career homer list, and second among active players behind Barry Bonds’ 761. … Vazquez started for Michael Young, the four-time All-Star who took a night off because of muscle soreness in his back. … Country music singer Charley Pride, a regular at Rangers spring training, was at the game and featured during a “Kiss Cam” segment. He was shown on the screen smooching while his song “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” played. … Wilkerson’s triple was his first since June 13, 2006.
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