SEATTLE — Struggling right-hander Taijuan Walker finally turned in a much-needed positive start and the Mariners bullpen made sure it didn’t go to waste.
Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer and Dae-Ho Lee added a solo shot to back Walker’s five solid innings and lift Seattle to a 6-3 victory over Texas on Thursday night, the Rangers’ fourth loss in five games.
Walker (5-10), who lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, shook off two game-opening walks to finish five innings, giving up three runs and seven hits to win for the first time in six starts.
“The story for me tonight is Taijuan Walker,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Really, really happy. It’s about as happy as I’ve been for a player in a long time to kind of go through the ups and downs, and then kind of buying into what we’ve talked about. After those first two hitters tonight, it would have been so easy to melt, and he didn’t.”
Evan Scribner and Nick Vincent combined for three scoreless innings and rookie Edwin Diaz pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
Derek Holland (7-7) allowed four runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out five. Despite the loss, Texas still leads the AL West by 8 1/2 games.
“I felt great. I felt my stuff going into it was really good, really good actually, I should say. It was just a few long innings that killed me, and walks,” Holland said. “That’s one thing I’m really critical on, when you give up free passes you aren’t giving your defense chances to make plays, and they found some holes. They were hitting the ball and just placing it where it needed to be.”
Seager’s home run off Jake Diekman, his career-high 27th, put the Mariners up 6-3 in the seventh.
Seattle erased a 2-1 deficit with three runs in the third on a two-run, bases-loaded double by Chris Iannetta and Guillermo Heredia’s RBI infield single.
Ian Desmond pulled Texas within 4-3, opening the fifth with his 22nd homer.
Texas went in front with two runs in the third. Carlos Beltran singled in Robinson Chirinos from second, whose reach-back slide narrowly beat the throw home from right fielder Franklin Gutierrez.
Adrian Beltre followed with another single, but left fielder Heredia threw out Desmond at home. Rougned Odor then delivered an RBI single.
Lee staked the Mariners to a 1-0 lead in the second with his 14th home run, an opposite-field liner down the right-field line.
Walker, who was 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts in April, was 0-5 in May. He missed most of July with a foot injury, and then was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma in early August. He was 0-3 in his three starts since being recalled on Aug. 23.
After his last disastrous outing, Walker was asked to make some mechanical adjustments, which he tried.
“The first couple innings, it was weird, felt awkward, just a little bit off, but I stuck with it,” Walker said. “After the second inning, the third inning, it just kind of clicked. My timing was down and my tempo was better.”
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (6-1, 3.21), on the 60-day DL (right shoulder muscle strain) since June 22, is listed as the probable starter for Sunday against the Angels. Lewis had made three rehab starts since Aug. 24, two at Double-A Frisco and one at short-season Class-A Spokane on Monday, where he allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, throwing 66 pitches.
Mariners: RHP Tom Wilhelmsen threw a 25-pitch simulated inning Thursday without incident and appears ready to rejoin the team. “I thought Willy threw the ball well,” manager Scott Servais said. “He felt really good. The ball was coming out good, threw all of his pitches, no constraints.” Wilhelmsen is eligible to come off the DL (low back spasms) Friday.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rangers challenged the third-inning call when Desmond tried to score from second on Beltre’s single, but was thrown out at home by l Heredia. The on-field call was upheld after an estimated delay of 1 minute, 28 seconds.
Rangers: Texas opens the middle portion of a 10-game road trip on Friday with the first of three games against the Angels. RHP Yu Darvish (5-4, 3.45 ERA) is making his 10th start since coming off the DL (right shoulder discomfort). He is 3-4 over that span. Darvish lasted just four innings in his last start, allowing five runs and seven hits, throwing 80 pitches.
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (14-11, 4.01 ERA), who has lost his last four starts, opens the three-game series at Oakland. In his last five starts against the A’s, he is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. Struggling RHP Daniel Mengden (1-6, 6.66 ERA) goes for Oakland. He has made one start since being recalled Sept. 3 by the A’s, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
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