Punchless Rangers avoid sweep in Seattle

SEATTLE -- In a mild upset, the Texas Rangers didn't sprint to their buses Sunday afternoon and speed off to their charter flight to get the heck out of the Pacific Northwest as quickly as possible.

It was a rough weekend at Safeco Field, where opportunities to build on their lead in the American League West were wasted ahead of a critical four-game series against their closest rival.

The margin over second-place Oakland is four games after a 3-2 victory Sunday that prevented Seattle from registering its first sweep of the Rangers in nearly five years.

But the Rangers can look back at a lack of production by baseball's highest-scoring offense for their failures against the Mariners. A repeat performance will prove more costly against the A's and in the postseason.

"We didn't execute today, and I guess the whole road trip," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "But we got a win. That's all that matters."

The Rangers became the first AL team to hit 90 wins, and their magic number to clinch the AL West is seven. Any combination of seven Rangers wins and A's losses over the final 10 games of the season will result in a third straight banner flying above Rangers Ballpark.

They also lead New York by two games in the quest to be the top-seeded team in the postseason.

The Rangers are planning to be there. They have discussed, but aren't revealing, what their roster might be for the AL Division Series and which pitcher they want to start Game 1.

Chances are the Rangers will be in the playoff mix. If they are to go 5-5 the rest of the season, Oakland would have to go 10-2 to end the Rangers' two-year reign atop the West.

But Washington conceded that plate performances like the Rangers had against Seattle, when they scored six runs in three games and went 0 for 20 with runners in scoring position over the final 21 innings, won't take them far the next six weeks.

The Rangers were 0 for 10 Sunday, including five empty at-bats in two situations with a runner at third and no outs.

The most glaring failure came in the ninth after Craig Gentry started with a triple. Ian Kinsler (shallow flyout), Elvis Andrus (strike out) and Mitch Moreland (infield popup) couldn't push home a key insurance run.

"You have to simplify," Andrus said. "When you do too much, you're missing pitches and not realizing the situation."

Mike Napoli hit a solo homer with one out in the fourth inning, and Geovany Soto followed two batters later with a two-run shot to give Ryan Dempster (12-7 overall, 7-2 with the Rangers) a 3-0 lead.

Dempster took a shutout into the seventh inning but surrendered solo homers to Eric Thames and Brendan Ryan before getting pulled after 6 2/3 innings.

Mike Adams narrowly escaped the eighth inning unscathed after Seattle opened with consecutive singles and loaded the bases with one out. Adams struck out Thames and got Luis Jimenez to fly out.

Adams hasn't worked a 1-2-3 inning since Aug. 27 and has allowed runs in three of his past seven outings.

"It's good and it's bad," he said. "It's helped me for situations like that, but at the same time I'd like to have those clean innings."

Joe Nathan had to sweat out the ninth after Michael Saunders singled with two outs and went to second on a wild pitch.

But Franklin Gutierrez struck out swinging to secure the win.

The Rangers were glad to have it, but they'll be even happier if they start driving home runners in scoring position.

"We've just hit that lull where we're not getting them in," Washington said. "I'd rather keep leaving guys on the bag than not getting them out there, because with this team, we'll get them in."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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