George Kirby, Eugenio Suarez lead Mariners past Rangers, 3-1

Julio Rodriguez could begin resuming some baseball activity Thursday and definitely through Friday.

SEATTLE (AP) — George Kirby allowed a six-inning run, Eugenio Suarez had three hits and an RBI and the Seattle Mariners defeated the Texas Rangers 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Trying to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2001, Seattle rebounded after losing the opener of the series on Tuesday night.

The Mariners got a boost in the playoff picture when every other team lost in the American League wildcard race. Baltimore lost 4 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the final wildcard spot. The Mariners are a half game behind Tampa Bay and two behind Toronto for the best wild card.

“We played a crisp game tonight. The guys were in every pitch, the energy was great,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais. “We’ve had a nice year but we need to turn it around and hopefully tonight it turned in the right direction.”

Kirby (8-4) had his worst start to the season when he gave up five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against Oakland. He returned to stay in shape against Texas, allowing just one run on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Kirby extended his franchise record to 14 starts without hitting a home run, the longest such streak in the majors that year.

Josh Jung had an RBI single in the first inning for Texas’ only run. Jung has driven in all six rounds of Texas in the first two games of the series.

The Mariners scored twice late in the inning with an RBI double from Suarez and a sacrificial fly from Mitch Haniger.

Suarez was 3 for 3 with a walk, tying his season-high for hits. It was his second game after spending 10 days on the injury list with a fractured right index finger.

“It’s kind of frustrating because you always want to keep going,” Suarez said. “I’m just happy to be back in 10 days, doing my best and helping my team win. We needed that.”

Seattle loaded the bases in the third with no outs but could only cross a run on a Carlos Santana ground-out. It was still enough as Kirby and the bullpen kept Rangers scoreless after the opening inning.

Texas starter Martin Perez (12-7) accepted the loss despite seven innings and allowed three runs for five hits.

“He gave us a chance to win the ballgame,” said Tony Beasley, Rangers interim manager. “I thought it was an excellent start from him. He fought, fought, it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t muster enough offense.

Kirby said he sometimes rushed with the pressure of the moment in the early innings, but he was able to adapt.

“I was just trying to slow myself down a bit. Focus on my breath between pitches, and I thought it worked out pretty well,” Kirby said.

Seattle substitutes Eric Swanson, Andres Munoz and Paul Sewald each put down a perfect inning to end the game, with Sewald making his 20th save.

After Tuesday’s 5-0 defeat by Rangers, Servais changed the team’s pre-season routine on Wednesday. The Mariners did not do any warm-up or batting practice before the game, and players were encouraged to arrive at the park later than usual for a “show and go” day.

“Sometimes you need that,” Suarez said. “It’s not just about coming here and working, working, working. Sometimes you have to take a little and relax.”

Rangers: SS Corey Seager was off the lineup after being hit in the forearm with a pitch in Texas’ win late Tuesday night. The Rangers said it was just a bruise and that Seager was day-to-day. Josh H. Smith started at shortstop with Seager outside.

MARINERS: OF Julio Rodriguez could begin resuming some baseball activity Thursday and definitely through Friday, manager Scott Servais said. Rodriguez was absent with a lower back strain but the aim is to take him off the injured list if he is eligible next Monday.

Rangers: RHP Jon Gray (7-7, 3.64 ERA) starts the last game of the series. Gray is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts against Seattle this season.

Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4:05) has lost his last three decisions. On his last outing, he allowed four runs for eight goals in a loss to Kansas City. George Kirby, Eugenio Suarez lead Mariners past Rangers, 3-1

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