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Rangers’ late rally topples Mariners

Morrow surrenders lead in 11th

Texas Rangers players celebrate with Hank Blalock, top left, after his winning hit.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Texas Rangers players celebrate with Hank Blalock, top left, after his winning hit. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Larry Stone Seattle Times

ARLINGTON, Texas. – The Seattle Mariners appeared to have pulled out an exhilarating victory over the Rangers in the 11th inning Wednesday.

But in the end, it was the Rangers celebrating on the field as Hank Blalock laced a two-run double to right-center off Brandon Morrow to lift the Rangers to a 6-5 victory over the Mariners.

The M’s had broken a 4-4 tie in the top of the 11th on Wladimir Balentien’s double that brought home Adrian Beltre, who reached on a throwing error and moved to second on a sacrifice.

But in the bottom of the 11th, Michael Young led with a single and stole second. Josh Hamilton walked on a 3-2 pitch before Andruw Jones flied to center. Blalock then delivered the winning hit, easily scoring Young and Hamilton as the Mariners (16-18) fell two games under .500 for the first time this season.

The Mariners, who hit three home runs to account for their first four runs, had blown a golden opportunity to move ahead in the 10th. Ken Griffey Jr. grounded into a double play with one out and runners on the corner.

Ronny Cedeno had led off with a bunt single, stole second (Rangers’ pitcher C.J. Wilson actually had him picked off but threw wildly to first), and moved to third on Ichiro Suzuki’s ground out to second (after Ichiro failed twice to put down a sacrifice bunt).

Jose Lopez walked before Wilson grabbed Griffey’s comebacker and turned two. Before that, Rangers’ catchers saved three potential wild pitches by blocking pitches in the dirt.

When Adrian Beltre led off the second with an opposite-field homer to right – just the second of the season for Seattle’s cleanup hitter – it marked the first time since May 5 that the Mariners had scored first in a game. That was eight games ago, when they took a 1-0 lead against Texas in the bottom of the sixth, only to lose 7-2 in 10 innings.

The Mariners extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a two-run homer by Kenji Johjima, who capitalized on a fielding miscue by the Rangers. After second baseman Ian Kinsler made a bad relay to thwart what would have been an inning-ending double play, Johjima launched a 2-1 pitch from Brandon McCarthy over the wall in left for his second homer.

The outpouring represented a veritable scoring explosion for Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn. He has become the American League’s hard-luck pitcher, garnering just 4.20 runs per game since the start of the 2005 season. In four of his six previous outings this year, the Mariners had scored two runs or fewer for him.

But the 3-0 lead didn’t last long. The Rangers got one back in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Chris Davis. Washburn avoided further damage by working out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam.

The Rangers, however, tied it in the fifth when Josh Hamilton homered for the second straight night after coming off the disabled list. This one followed a Kinsler walk and slammed off the second-deck scoreboard.

The Mariners took the next advantage in this see-saw affair, again via the long ball. This time it was Russell Branyan connecting off McCarthy with an estimated 421-foot blast onto the grass behind center field, his eighth of the year.

But again the Rangers came back to tie it off Washburn. After Marlon Byrd led off the sixth with a single, Washburn fanned the next two hitters, but rookie Elvis Andrus drove the ball into the right-center gap for an RBI triple.

David Aardsma managed to squirm out of trouble in the seventh after giving up a leadoff double to Young, followed by a walk to Hamilton. He struck out Jones and got Blalock and Marlon Byrd to fly out.

The Mariners got Ichiro to second with one out in the eighth but Griffey and Beltre struck out.

The Rangers also threatened in the eighth, getting runners to second and third with two outs (aided by a wild pickoff attempt by Sean White and a passed ball by Johjima – before Young flied out to right).

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