Mariners proving to be a resilient club

Mariners proving to be a resilient club

SEATTLE -- The one-game-at-a-time approach that carried the Mariners through a difficult nine-game road trip against three of the teams -- Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox -- with the best records continues during a pair of three-game series that takes the club into the three-day All-Star break.

After being stunned by a rare blown save from closer David Aardsma on Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field, the resilient Mariners pulled one out of their collective hats on Thursday night against the Rangers. A three-run home run by Franklin Gutierrez in the eighth inning, and ensuing perfect inning of relief by Aardsma, gave the Mariners an important victory over the AL West-leaders in the opener of a four-game series.

Instead of being 5½ games behind going into Friday night's game, the Mariners closed to within 3½ games of the division leaders.

Right-hander Brandon Morrow takes another shot at his first victory of the season, opposing the Rangers and right-hander Scott Feldman on Friday night.

Morrow has improved with each outing since being moved back to the rotation and has enough arm strength to reach the 100-pitch level without much difficulty. The final pitch he threw against the Red Sox in his last start was his 98th pitch of the game and it was clocked at 98 mph.

Aardsma showed that his second blown save of the season was not something that would send him into a tailspin.

"I concentrated on throwing strikes in the bullpen and took it into the game," Aardsma said of his approach prior to entering the series opener.

Three fly balls later, he had secured his 18th save in 20 save chances. "It was great for him, mentally, and great for the team," manager Don Wakamatsu said. " It shows that he's for real."

Pitching matchup
SEA: RHP Brandon Morrow (0-3, 5.05 ERA)
Signs of progress were seen in the converted reliever's most recent start as he held the Red Sox to three runs over six innings at Fenway Park, striking out a season-high seven batters. All three runs came via solo home runs, but he walked just two and departed with a one-run lead. He has surrendered just four earned runs in his last two starts, covering 10 2/3 innings. He has improved in each outing on changing speeds and using his slider and changeup more often.

TEX: RHP Scott Feldman (7-2, 3.91 ERA)
Feldman gave up two runs (one earned) over six innings on Sunday against the Rays, allowing four walks but just three hits. As a starter this season, Feldman has held opponents to a .217 average (65-for-299). Feldman has posted nine quality starts this season and has logged at least five innings in all 14 of his starts this season, posting six or more innings 11 times. The right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.25 ERA as a starter this season, and he has a 2.30 ERA in 12 games (three starts) spanning 27 1/3 innings against the Mariners in his career. In four games at Safeco Field, Feldman hasn't allowed an earned run in 3 1/3 innings.

Tidbits
Ichiro Suzuki said he would compete in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities if Ken Griffey Jr. went to St. Louis, "He probably doesn't know that Junior will probably fly with us [from Seattle] and then go home [to Florida] from there," Wakamatsu said. "[Ichiro] didn't say anything about Junior staying [in St. Louis]." For the ninth consecutive season, Ichiro will not be in the Derby. ... Left-hander Erik Bedard on Tuesday became only the third pitcher in franchise history to strike out at least eight batters in a start of four or fewer innings. Jim Beattie fanned nine in 3 2/3 innings in 1982, and Mark Langston struck out eight Athletics in four innings in 1989. ... Left fielder Endy Chavez had surgery on his right knee on Thursday, and the next step is to begin a long rehab. He is expected to be sidelined for at least nine months and possibly one year. He suffered a torn ACL and MCL in a collision with Betancourt last month.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• 710 ESPN, FSN-SAP (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 5-6, 3.08) vs. Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 8-6, 3.34), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Mariners (Erik Bedard, 5-2, 2.58) vs. Rangers (Dustin Nippert, 0-0, 7.36), 1:10 p.m. PT
• Monday: All-Star break

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.