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Rangers Walk Off Past Mariners On Nelson Cruz Strikeout

(Sports Network) – Mitch Moreland scored the game-winning run after Nelson Cruz struck out with two outs in the ninth inning, as Texas took an improbable 6-5 comeback victory over the Mariners to cap a three-game set.

Dan Cortes (0-1) walked Moreland with two outs in the final inning, then got Cruz, who was pinch-hitting, to swing at a ball in the dirt for strike three. The ball, however, got away from Guillermo Quiroz, and the catcher’s throw to first base to nab a slow-moving Cruz got by Justin Smoak and found its way to the outfield.

Moreland never stopped running and slid in safely in front of Ichiro Suzuki’s throw from right to salvage the series for the AL West champions.

Jason Vargas had lost his previous seven outings to tie a Mariners record, but held the Rangers to one run on five hits over six innings. He was in line for the win but earned a no-decision after the Rangers erased a four-run deficit.

Rich Harden, in his first start since August 28, yielded four runs on six hits and three walks in four-plus frames for Texas.

Smoak, who was traded from Texas to Seattle in a trade involving Cliff Lee earlier this year, staked the visitors to an early lead in the first inning with a two-run homer, his third in the series.

A Matt Treanor sacrifice fly scored Jeff Francoeur in the second inning to make it 2-1, but Franklin Gutierrez’s two-run double in the fifth gave the Mariners a 4-1 cushion.

Quiroz doubled leading off the sixth and scored when Andres Blanco threw away a ball hit by Suzuki.

Michael Young started the rally by doubling off Garrett Olson to score Ian Kinsler in the seventh. Jamey Wright came in and stranded Young on third but was pulled with two on and one out in the eighth.

Cortes entered and walked two straight hitters, including a four-pitch free pass to Blanco that forced in a run. Julio Borbon’s bloop single plated another, and Treanor scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

Rookie of the Year candidate Neftali Feliz (4-3) hurled a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to earn the victory.

Game Notes

Rangers outfielder and AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton took batting practice on Wednesday and may play on Friday. He has not seen action in a game since September 4 due to a rib injury…Chone Figgins had four of Seattle’s 10 hits…Rangers outfielder David Murphy left the game with a injured groin…Seattle, which finished its road slate with a 26-55 record, completes its season with four games against Oakland…Texas wraps up the season with four games at home against the Angels.

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