(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers will attempt to stay on top of a competitive American League West Division when the team continues a three-game series with the visiting Seattle Mariners tonight in Arlington.
Texas briefly fell out of the division's top spot after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Mariners in Monday's opener of this set, but climbed back into first place following last night's 7-1 victory. That win, coupled with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's loss to Oakland on Tuesday, moved the Rangers a half-game in front of the Angels in the standings, with the Athletics just one game back of the lead.
Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton and Elvis Andrus each knocked in two runs to back seven strong innings from Texas starter Colby Lewis in last night's triumph, which halted a two-game losing streak for the Rangers. Andrus finished 3-for-5 on the evening.
Lewis (5-4) held the Mariners to one run on four hits and struck out five to gain the win, with the right-hander throwing 75 of his 119 pitches for strikes.
"It definitely is a boost when you go out and pound the strike zone and not let guys get on base," he said afterward.
Seattle's Felix Hernandez (3-5) wasn't as effective as his counterpart, as the ace right-hander was tagged for seven runs on eight hits before exiting with none out in the bottom of the seventh.
"Early on, his sinker was not in command, so we had to go to his four-seamer," Mariners catcher Rob Johnson of Hernandez. "Usually he has such good command, but [Tuesday] was just one of those games."
Johnson drove in Seattle's lone run with a fifth-inning single in the loss, the fourth in five games for the last-place Mariners.
Guerrero's two-run homer off Hernandez in the seventh extended the star designated hitter's hitting streak at Rangers Ballpark to 15 consecutive games. The 2004 AL Most Valuable Player is batting a scorching .369 at home this season and his .330 overall average is sixth-best in the Junior Circuit at the moment.
He and his Ranger teammates will be taking their swings tonight off Ian Snell, who takes the mound for Seattle still in search of his first win of the season. The disappointing right-hander has lost two of three starts since rejoining the team's rotation in late May and has an 0-4 record with a 4.64 earned run average in his 10 overall appearances (seven starts) thus far in 2010.
Snell only allowed three hits in 5 1/3 innings in a home outing against Anaheim this past Friday, but walked four batters and served up a costly two- run homer to Hideki Matsui in Seattle's 7-1 loss. He permitted four runs (three earned) before being removed.
The 28-year-old, who went 5-2 in 12 starts with the Mariners after being coming over in a trade with Pittsburgh last July, also struggled in a matchup with the Rangers earlier this season. In that April 11 contest in Arlington, Snell was rocked for five runs (four earned) and eight hits in just three innings to suffer his first defeat of 2010.
In four career encounters with Texas, Snell is 1-1 with a solid 3.38 ERA, however.
Texas counters with the struggling C.J. Wilson, who was able to halt a four- start winless streak his last time out but surrendered five runs (three earned) and walked four over five shaky innings in the Rangers' 9-6 verdict over Tampa Bay. The converted reliever has permitted five runs or more in four straight appearances and produced a substandard 8.57 ERA over that stretch.
Wilson did perform well in a May 2 clash with the Mariners in Seattle, though, limiting tonight's foe to one run and five hits in a seven-inning no-decision. The left-hander sports a 5-2 record and seven saves in 39 career games against the Mariners, all but two of which have come in relief, but has a 5.01 ERA over the course of those tilts.
The 29-year-old has been good at home this year, having posted a 3-1 record with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts at Rangers Ballpark.
With Tuesday's win, Texas has now prevailed in six of its eight meetings with Seattle this season and has gone 12-5 over its last 17 bouts with the Mariners held in Arlington.