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Lee Dominant As Rangers Beat Mariners 6-1

(Sports Network) – Cliff Lee pitched eight dominant innings in his return to Seattle, leading the Texas Rangers to a 6-1 win over the Mariners in the middle contest of a three-game series.

Lee (12-8) limited Seattle to one run on six hits and a walk, and struck out eight to win his second straight start. It was his first outing against the Mariners, who acquired him in the offseason, since they traded him to the Rangers shortly before the All-Star break.

Bengie Molina went 3-for-4 with a two-run single for Texas, which has won eight of nine. Coupled with Oakland’s loss to Minnesota earlier Saturday, the Rangers reduced their magic number for clinching the AL West to six.

"Cliff did what he does," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He kept us in the ballgame, pounded the strike zone, and it was nice to bounce back from yesterday."

Jason Vargas (9-11) allowed five runs in six innings and took the loss for Seattle, which has dropped eight of nine.

"They swing the bat real well and they don't let you make mistakes very often," said Vargas. "I thought I threw the ball better than the scoreboard showed."

Michael Young's RBI single in the third inning got the Rangers on the board, and they added two more in the fourth. Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single before Ian Kinsler doubled to put runners in scoring position. One out later, Jeff Francoeur singled to center to make it a 3-0 game.

Molina hit his two-run single in the sixth, and David Murphy's RBI base hit in the seventh gave the Rangers a six-run cushion. It was plenty of support for Lee, who gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki to begin the first inning, but retired the next 12 batters.

Seattle had runners on second and third with nobody out in the fifth, but Lee worked out of the jam with a strikeout, a pop out and a fly out.

The Mariners got their only run when Franklin Gutierrez led off the seventh with his 12th homer of the season. But Lee gave up just two singles for the remainder of his outing.

Alexi Ogando worked a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.

Game Notes

Lee improved to 10-1 in 14 career games (13 starts) against Seattle...Guerrero was hit in the left wrist by a Jamey Wright pitch in the ninth inning, and was removed for a pinch-runner...On Saturday, the Mariners recalled first baseman Justin Smoak and pitcher Dan Cortes from Triple-A Tacoma. Smoak started and went 1-for-4...Suzuki's first of two hits gave him 3,500 for his career between Major League Baseball and Japan...Vargas allowed nine hits and a walk, and struck out three.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.