ARLINGTON, Texas – Franklin Gutierrez knew there was more than a place on highlight film lore riding on the difficult ninth-inning leap he timed at the wall.
His Mariners had finally risen from the dead, stoked by a three-run ninth inning off Texas Rangers closer Frank Francisco to take a late lead Saturday. But it might have gone for naught had Gutierrez failed to snag an Elvis Andrus blast heading over the fence in right-center with two outs to go.
As luck – and skill – would have it, Gutierrez did indeed find the ball with his glove, preserving a 4-3 win for the Mariners and sparing them any more angst from a four-game losing streak finally halted.
“It’s very important, this victory,” Gutierrez said after his catch enabled David Aardsma to close out the ninth. “We’re trying to figure out how to score some runs. We’re having a tough time right now. It’s very special that we won today. We scored some runs in the last inning. I think we’re going to keep trying (today) and the next games and we hope we do better.”
Seattle had scored just 15 runs in five games and was trailing 3-1 in the ninth, when it put the first two runners on against Francisco. Jack Wilson then bunted the runners ahead 90 feet before Ichiro Suzuki singled to center to bring one run in.
Ken Griffey Jr. then hit a first-pitch fastball to center for a single that tied it up. Francisco was taken out, roundly booed by 26,861 fans at Rangers Ballpark, but new reliever Darren O’Day fared no better, serving up a single to left by Gutierrez that put Seattle ahead.
Gutierrez finished with three hits and is batting .435. But no one was talking much about his bat.
“That was a tough play,” right fielder Ichiro said of Gutierrez’s catch in the ninth, which he had a front-row seat to from a few feet away. “Everybody can understand that because you’ve got that wall right there in front of you. And that wall is going diagonal to the back fence. It’s a very tricky ballpark at that corner, it’s tough, And it’s not our home ballpark so it’s a very tough play. He made a very nice, fantastic play out there.”
The Mariners looked like they’d waste a seven-inning effort by Felix Hernandez, who allowed just two earned runs and a third marker on a throwing error by Chone Figgins. But Hernandez battled out of a seventh-inning jam with runners at the corners and one out, keeping it close.
“Not just the offense, everybody in this clubhouse needed to go out and have a good day,” Griffey said. “Now we can go out, have a good dinner and come back tomorrow.”
The difference in that ninth inning, Griffey added, was that hitters kept working the count on Francisco.
“The guys were taking pitches,” he said. “They (the coaching staff) had a stat that told us we had a multi-hit inning every 11 innings. I’m just glad we could do it in the ninth.”
Mariners left fielder Milton Bradley, who went hitless and is now 1 for 21, said a little positive boost never hurts.
“It’s definitely good to win, get on a streak after losing four in a row,” he said.
Mariners 4, Rangers 3
|Griffey Jr. ph||1||0||1||1||0||0||.250|
|Seattle||100||000||003 – 4||12||1|
|Texas||000||021||000 – 3||7||0|
E – Figgins (1). LOB – Seattle 9, Texas 7. 2B – Ro.Johnson (1). 3B – Hamilton (1). HR – N.Cruz (4), off F.Hernandez. RBIs – I.Suzuki (1), Griffey Jr. (1), F.Gutierrez (2), Borbon (2), N.Cruz (8). S – J.Wilson, Andrus. RLISP – Seattle 6 (Bradley, I.Suzuki 3, F.Gutierrez, Jo.Lopez); Texas 3 (Guerrero, M.Young, A.Blanco). GIDP – Jo.Lopez, M.Young. DP – Seattle 1 (Jo.Lopez, Figgins, Kotchman); Texas 1 (M.Young, C.Davis).
|M.Lowe W, 1-1||1||0||0||0||2||0||20||3.38|
|Aardsma S, 2-2||1||0||0||0||0||2||20||0.00|
|Nippert H, 1||1||2||0||0||0||1||15||7.36|
|N.Feliz H, 2||1||0||0||0||0||1||10||3.86|
|F.Francisco L, 1-2 BS, 2-2||1/3||3||3||3||1||0||15||27.00|
IR-S – O’Day 2-1. HBP – by F.Hernandez (Teagarden), by Harrison (M.Sweeney). WP – F.Hernandez, Harrison. T – 2:53. A – 26,861 (49,170).
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