ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Stefen Romero caught a shallow flyball, and the Seattle left fielder double-pumped with his glove as speedy Texas baserunner Elvis Andrus trotted off third before sprinting for home.
Andrus beat the half-lob throw, setting up Jurickson Profar’s tiebreaking single in a 3-2 victory Sunday that gave the Rangers a three-game sweep of the Mariners in a series that started with the teams tied atop the AL West.
“I’m not quite sure what he was thinking there,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “When you let down a little bit mentally, it will get you. That’s what it is for me, more the mental mistake, not so much the errors.”
The Mariners led 2-1 when Bobby Wilson lifted the flyball to shallow left. Andrus switched from trot to sprint just as Romero was about to loft the ball in. The throw skipped past catcher Chris Iannetta as Andrus slid head-first across the plate.
“First instinct was he’s probably going to fake break or something,” Romero said. “He wasn’t running or anything. He was just nonchalant. That’s when I was going to throw it. The second time is when I saw him take off, and I was just trying to throw it in.”
The three-run burst in the fifth inning, which included two errors and two unearned runs, sent Texas to its 12th win in 15 games.
“We talk about the freebies,” said manager Jeff Banister, whose team is an AL-best 34-22. “I know early on in the season, we were aggressive in certain situations and it seemed to cost us. But the one thing that we never shy away from is to continue to stay aggressive, push the envelope.”
Derek Holland (5-4) allowed two runs — on former teammate Nelson Cruz’s two-run homer in the fourth — with six strikeouts in seven innings, both season highs for the left-hander. Closer Sam Dyson pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in eight chances.
Profar, who had two singles, now has hits in all nine games with a .390 average in the leadoff spot since he was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to fill in for Rougned Odor during the second baseman’s seven-game suspension.
Odor’s return Saturday prompted Profar’s move to DH to replace struggling slugger Prince Fielder, who is hitting .187 with one homer in his past 39 games.
Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5) gave up four hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings, allowing just one earned run after a nine-game stretch in which Seattle starters had a 9.33 ERA.
“He was rolling until they made an error and we made him pay,” said Profar, the former top prospect who missed the past two major league seasons with shoulder problems.
Odor, in his second game back from the suspension for punching Toronto’s Jose Bautista in a May 15 brawl, started the decisive inning by sliding past the diving tag of first baseman Dae-Ho Lee on a bunt single.
Andrus reached on shortstop Luis Sardinas’ error and went to third on Jared Hoying’s RBI single. After Andrus’ mad dash that also moved Hoying to second, Romero overran Profar’s single for an error when he charged the ball trying to set up for a throw to get Hoying.
“They beat us the first two games. Today we lost the game, defense,” Cruz said. “You don’t have to be sorry for us. We got to step up and tomorrow figure out how to win games.”
The Mariners have now been swept by three AL West rivals. Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels did it in Seattle. By dropping the first two games in Texas, the Mariners lost a road series for the first time this season.
Mariners: CF Leonys Martin (strained left hamstring) is close to going on a rehab assignment, likely this week with Triple-A Tacoma. He visited his old teammates in the Texas clubhouse before the game, prompting Fielder to yell at him jokingly to “get out.”
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (0-1, 7.36) makes his second start filling in for injured ace Felix Hernandez in the opener of a four-game series against Cleveland at home.
Rangers: 36-year-old RHP Colby Lewis (5-0, 3.09), off to the best start of his career, faces Houston and tries to become the first member of Texas’ season-opening rotation to open at 6-0 since Alexi Ogando in 2011.
The story has been corrected to show that the Mariners have been swept by three AL West teams, not each of them.
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