Maybe Vladimir Guerrero returning to the lineup following a scheduled day off will spur the division-leading Rangers to victory in Wednesday's second portion of a three-game series against the Mariners at Safeco Field. Guerrero was not in the starting lineup in Tuesday's 3-2 loss, but did ground out as a pinch hitter to end the game in the top of the ninth.
Guerrero owns a .358 batting average with 13 home runs and 44 RBI in 50 games at Safeco Field, and is batting .350 with 29 homers and 92 runs batted in lifetime against Seattle. Michael Young and Bengie Molina got the Rangers on the board with a sacrifice fly apiece, while Josh Hamilton returned from a two-game absence because of knee tendinitis and finished 0-for-4. Hamilton, who received a cortisone shot in his right knee on Sunday to reduce inflammation, still leads the majors with a .358 batting average.
"We need to swing the bats a little better," Young said after last night's game. "The last couple of games we haven't been executing like we usually do. But we'll come back tomorrow and make some good adjustments."
Texas starter Colby Lewis yielded nine hits and three runs while striking out nine in six innings to suffer the loss. Despite the defeat, the Rangers are still eight games ahead of both the Angels and Athletics in the AL West and have dropped two straight and four of six contests. They will visit Oakland for three games after this series in the Emerald City.
Taking the mound for Texas tonight will be C.J. Wilson, who has won three straight starts and seven of his last nine decisions. He has pitched to a 2.75 ERA in his last 11 starts with the Rangers going 9-2 over that time period. After hurling eight shutout innings in a win over the Angels on July 23, Wilson squeezed out a victory against Oakland last Thursday with 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball in a 7-4 triumph.
Wilson, a left-hander, beat Seattle back on June 8 in a 12-2 win, as he held the Mariners to a pair of runs in seven frames. He is 6-2 in 40 career games (3 starts) against the Mariners.
Seattle is playing out the string and hopes to record back-to-back wins over Texas for the first time since last October. Franklin Gutierrez put the hosts ahead for good last night with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and finished with two RBI for the Mariners, who ended a seven-game losing streak.
Chone Figgins finished 3-for-4, while Ichiro Suzuki, Casey Kotchman and Matt Tuiasosopo each notched two hits in the win. Mariners starter Jason Vargas was credited with the victory for holding Texas to two runs in six innings and David Aardsma later collected his 19th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
"He battled out of a couple of jams," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said of Vargas on the club's official site. "But to go six innings and [throw] 92 efficient pitches, it was a tremendous [game] for him."
The Mariners, who opened a nine-game homestand in positive fashion, will look to struggling starter Doug Fister for their second consecutive win Wednesday night. Fister is 0-6 with a 5.03 earned run average in his last 10 starts and was beaten by Minnesota the last time out on Friday from Target Field, where he allowed five runs -- two earned -- in five innings of his team's 5-3 loss.
Fister fell to 3-7 in 17 overall starts this season and is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two career starts against Texas. On May 2 this season, the right-hander did not record a decision after throwing eight shutout innings in a 3-1 setback to the Rangers at Safeco Field.
Texas has won eight of the 11 meetings with Seattle this season and swept a three-game series at Safeco Field from April 30-May 2.