ARLINGTON -- Seattle is in full-on build-for-next-year mode, but the Mariners can still beat any team if they play well and get a few breaks along the way.
That sums up how they avoided a three-game sweep Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers.
Derek Holland wasn't great early, and his fielding gaffe in the second inning aided Seattle's cause.
The Rangers saw three line drives snared by diving Mariners infielders before they could land safely for base hits.
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A ball that could have been a double play in the seventh instead took a bad hop and allowed the go-ahead run to score.
Casper Wells' sharp grounder off Michael Young's glove proved to be the game-winning hit, and Brandon League stranded a runner at second base in the ninth inning as the Mariners held on for a 4-3 victory.
The loss kept the Rangers from adding to their lead in the American League West on a night when Los Angeles was routed in New York. The Rangers enter an off day today leading the West by 1 1/2 games.
The Rangers weren't kicking themselves afterward. As manager Ron Washington and now Merle Haggard say, that's the way baseball go.
"As bad as their record is, they're still a big-league club," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "You hate losing to them, but you've got to respect them."
The Rangers, who had rallied from three runs down to win three times on the homestand, looked like they might do it again after falling behind 3-0.
Josh Hamilton lined the first pitch he saw from Jason Vargas in the fourth for his first homer since July 19. Kinsler tied the game an inning later with a two-run homer that just cleared the left-field wall.
But the tie lasted only an inning. Seattle put together three hits against Koji Uehara, including a hard grounder by Wells that shot high and off Young's glove at third base.
"Usually, hard-hit balls like that don't take crazy hops," Young said. "I don't know what it hit, but it popped straight up in the air. On those, all you want to do is pick it, and usually it's an easy turn. But it hit something."
The Rangers had a base runner in each of the final three innings. Kinsler, who reached base in his first four plate appearances, grounded out to end the game with pinch runner Endy Chavez at second base.
"The teams we've been playing have been scoring early, and we've been scratching and clawing our way back," Young said.
Seattle scored the game's first three runs as Holland struggled early.
Holland avoided damage in the first after the first two hitters reached. But Seattle broke through with a run in the second, thanks to an error on Holland while trying to throw home on a bases-loaded tapper that traveled about 30 feet.
Mike Carp hit a two-run homer in the third, but Holland pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth, two walks in the fifth and another walk in the sixth to keep Seattle at only three runs.
"I was doing everything I could to help the team win, but we couldn't come out on top," said Holland, who threw 116 pitches in six innings. "When you don't have your best stuff, you've got to try to make your pitches and do everything you can to keep momentum on our side. You've got to tip your cap to Seattle. They were hitting the ball, and things were falling in."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760