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Mariners split series, top Rangers 4-3 Sunday

Mariners split series, top Rangers 4-3 Sunday
Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager scores against the Texas Rangers in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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SEATTLE (AP) — Dustin Ackley snapped a sixth-inning tie with his first RBI of the season, rookie Brandon Maurer rebounded from a horrible start to throw six strong innings for his first career victory and the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 on Sunday.

Raul Ibanez added a solo homer as Seattle salvaged a split of the four-game series thanks largely to Maurer (1-2) finally showing the promise he displayed in spring training that earned him a spot in the rotation.

In his first home start last Tuesday against Houston, Maurer recorded just two outs and gave up six earned runs. He was far better on Sunday, allowing five hits and only two runs before turning it over to the bullpen. Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Maurer made the jump from Double-A last season to the majors this year and showed his youth and inexperience in his first two starts. But Seattle continued to believe in Maurer's stuff to the point that newly acquired starter Aaron Harang took the rotation spot of Blake Beavan and not Maurer.

Maurer backed up that belief with the finest performance of his young career. He struck out five and walked only one. And when Texas did get to him for runs — in the second and fifth innings — Maurer immediately responded with 1-2-3 innings the next time out.

Texas took the lead in the fifth scoring twice with two outs. Leury Garcia hit a one-out triple off the top of the wall in deep right-center, but was cut down trying to score on Elvis Andrus' grounder to second. Craig Gentry was hit by a pitch and Lance Berkman ripped an RBI single on a full-count pitch to score Andrus. Gentry advanced to third on Berkman's hit and score the go-ahead run when Seattle catcher Jesus Montero couldn't handle Maurer's tailing fastball and it went all the way to the backstop for a passed ball.

Texas starter Nick Tepesch (1-1) went 5 2-3 innings in his second career start, but could not get through the sixth holding the lead. After striking out Justin Smoak to open the sixth, Kyle Seager hit his second double of the game — he lined an RBI double in the second. Montero followed with a broken-bat single that dropped softly into shallow right field and allowed Seager to score the tying run. The throw home was wide and Montero was able to advance to second.

That proved large when Ackley — hitting just .108 entering the day — dribbled a single back up the middle, scoring Montero.

Texas threatened in the seventh after Mitch Moreland walked against reliever Bobby LaFromboise and advanced to second on Garcia's sacrifice bunt. Stephen Pryor took over and struck out Andrus and Gentry to end the threat.

Pryor walked Adrian Beltre in the eighth and left with two outs after straining a latissimus muscle. Oliver Perez gave up a bloop single to David Murphy to put runners on the corners, but Geovany Soto popped out to end the inning.

NOTES: Rangers manager Ron Washington said Berkman will probably be used in a pinch-hitting role the next three games with Texas beginning interleague play at the Chicago Cubs. ... Seattle CF Franklin Gutierrez is still bothered by tightness in his legs and was out of the lineup. Seattle manager Eric Wedge is hopeful Gutierrez and OF Michael Morse (finger) could be ready to play on Tuesday. ... Seattle is off on Monday, the last team in baseball to get a day off. The Mariners' reward is 16 straight games after the day off.
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