Rangers jump on Iwakuma, Mariners early

Rangers jump on Iwakuma, Mariners early

ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma got the first crack at the Rangers in the Mariners' quest to hunt down the American League West leaders Monday night at Globe Life Park. But a four-run third inning cut his night short and he was outdueled by fellow Japanese righty Yu Darvish, who struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings, in a 6-3 win by the Rangers.

"I really hate when guys go out there and battle and fight and as an offense we don't score any runs," said Carlos Beltran, who hit a solo homer in the first. "So the fact that we scored some runs for him and he was able to continue to pitch a good game, that was fun to see."

The Mariners have lost six of their last seven and dropped to third place in the AL West, due to a win from the Astros, but remain three games behind the Orioles for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Rangers maintained their 8 1/2-game first-place lead in the division with the Astros' win.

Nomar Mazara got things started for the Rangers in the third with a run-scoring triple. Ian Desmond and Beltran followed with RBI doubles. Jonathan Lucroy finished the scoring with an RBI single as Iwakuma needed 40 pitches to finish the inning. Iwakuma did not return for the fourth, matching his shortest outing of the season and his season-high for runs allowed with five. Adrian Beltre scored the Rangers' last run after he doubled in the fifth, moved to third on a passed ball and came home on a Rougned Odor sacrifice fly.

Before he did, Beltre went to the plate with his helmet on backwards as he prepared to face Mariners ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte.

Beltre wears helmet backwards

Beltre flips helmet to face Venditte

"Everything was up in the zone, fastball and breaking balls," said Iwakuma, who has lost three in a row to fall to 14-10. "It's hard to say [why]. I had a really good bullpen today. Everything was sharp. I just didn't carry it over to the mound. It was hot, I admit. But it wasn't like I had bad mechanics, it was just everything was up ."

Darvish was responsible for three runs in his 6 2/3 innings of work to pick up his third victory in his last four starts. He's struck out eight-plus batters in four of his six August starts. He left the game with runners on second and third and pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez brought them both home with a double off left-hander Jake Diekman. Adam Lind drove in the Mariners' other run with a double in the fourth. Sam Dyson closed things out with his 30th save of the year.

Darvish's nine strikeouts

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltran's big night: Fresh off the worst hitless streak of his 19-year career, Beltran hit a solo homer to the upper deck in right field to get the Rangers on the board in the first. The homer traveled an estimated 408 feet with a 33-degree launch angle, per Statcast™. Entering Monday's game, Beltran's was 2-for-his-last 36 with both hits being singles. Beltran added a run-scoring double in the third in a 3-for-4 night to give him 1,518 career RBIs, tying with Jeff Kent for No. 53 on the all-time list.

"The feeling at the plate wasn't there consistently in being able to put together good at-bats," Beltran said of his recent slump. "Today I was able to put good at-bats together and I got the results. I just got to go from there." More >>

Beltran's RBI double

Either arm works: After Iwakuma's abbreviated outing, switch-pitcher Venditte made his Mariners debut in the fourth and fared well from both sides. The Majors' only full-time ambidextrous hurler since the late 1800s struck out the first two batters he faced -- whiffing Elvis Andrus while throwing right-handed, then Mazara throwing with the left arm -- and wound up with a career-best five strikeouts in three innings. Venditte allowed just one hit on a double in the fifth, with Beltre scoring on a sacrifice fly by Odor to give Texas a 6-1 lead.

"Anytime you get to a new ballclub, you want to get out there and get off on the right foot," said Venditte, who was acquired from the Blue Jays earlier this month and promoted from Triple-A on Saturday. "With what is at stake this last month here, a good start was important for me to show them I can get the outs they need." More >>

Venditte's Mariners debut

Home run robbery: Leonys Martin reminded his former eam what he can do defensively as the Mariners center fielder went above the fence in the seventh to steal a home run from Desmond with a spectacular grab. Martin sprinted to the wall in the right-center gap and timed his leap perfectly, snaring a drive that Statcast™ projected at 383 feet, and saving a run for reliever Arquimedes Caminero that kept the score at 6-3.

"Fantastic," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That's about as athletic a play as you can make. He timed it just right. And thank goodness because that would have been out. Cammy didn't miss many barrels tonight. Those were three loud outs, but we made plays behind him. That was a great play by Leonys."

Statcast: Martin takes away HR

Kela with big K: Keone Kela entered the game with runners on second and third, two out and Nelson Cruz up at the plate representing the tying run for the Mariners in the seventh. Cruz entered Monday's game with a .628 slugging percentage against his former team. After Kela worked Cruz to a full count, he struck him out swinging to end the inning and preserved the lead for Darvish. Kela followed with the strikeout with a scoreless eighth.

"It was a real long at-bat. He's a true competitor out there," Kela said of Cruz. "He's a great hitter so I had to make my pitch and execute. I'm glad to get those under my belt. I have a good group of guys around me -- Dyson, Diekman, [Tony] Barnette, [Matt] Bush, all the way down."

Kela fans Cruz, ends frame

QUOTABLE
"Early in the game, he probably had the liveliest fastball we've seen out of him this year. Much better than it was early when we saw him. Obviously he's got a new catcher and Lucroy did a nice job with him as well." -- Servais on Darvish, who also beat Seattle in his second game back this year in June

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Andrus stole his 20th base of the season in the third inning. He has now stolen 20-plus bases through the first eight years of his career. The only active player to begin a career with that many seasons of 20-plus steals is Ichiro Suzuki, who did it in his first 13 Major League seasons.

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino struck out in all four at-bats and is now on an 0-for-19 streak with 12 strikeouts as his average has dropped from .280 to .226 after his hot start upon his promotion from Triple-A.

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: James Paxton (4-5, 3.63 ERA) makes his second start since coming off the 15-day disabled list in Tuesday's 5:05 p.m. PT rematch at Globe Life Park. The 27-year-old lefty held the Rangers scoreless for 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision on June 11 and is 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in five career starts against Texas.

Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels (14-4, 2.67) ERA will continue his push for the American League Cy Young Award at 7:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Globe Life Park. Hamels has recorded a quality start in seven of his eight outings since the All-Star break and has 1.59 ERA over that span. .

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011.

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Dallas.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.