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Rangers Drop Second To Mariners, 3-1

Arlington, TX (Sports Network) – Felix Hernandez pitched eight stellar innings to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers in the middle installment of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark.

Hernandez (13-12) allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts for the Mariners, who have won three straight following a three-game skid.

Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer in the victory.

Scott Feldman suffered the loss in a brief outing. Feldman (7-11) allowed three runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings of work for the AL West-champion Rangers, who are waiting to see how things shake out in terms of their potential playoff opponent.

Both New York and Tampa Bay clinched playoff berths earlier Tuesday, which completes the four spots in the American League along with Minnesota.

The Mariners opened the scoring in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Franklin Gutierrez before the hosts tied it up in the third via David Murphy’s RBI single.

In the top of the fourth, Jose Lopez led off with a walk before Gutierrez popped out. Smoak was next to the plate and he belted a fastball over the wall in center field, and the two-run blast gave Seattle a 3-1 advantage.

Hernandez quickly took control on the mound. He pitched perfect frames in both the fourth and fifth innings but the Rangers tested him in the sixth. Murphy stroked a one-out double and moved to third on a base hit by Nelson Cruz. However, Hernandez settled down and induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

The bottom of the seventh saw Bengie Molina rip a two-out double, but Hernandez struck out Julio Borbon. The Rangers went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.

Brandon League worked a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.

Both teams stranded six baserunners…It was Smoak’s 12th home run of the season…Hernandez threw 111 pitches (71 strikes)…The scheduled pitching matchup for Wednesday’s matinee finale is set to feature Texas right-hander Rich Harden against southpaw Jason Vargas…Hernandez lowered his 2010 ERA to 2.27 and has now pitched into the seventh inning in a club-record 25 consecutive starts. He improved to 10-12 lifetime against Texas (28 starts).

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