SEATTLE -- The Texas Rangers, who were without Adrian Beltre (intestinal problems) and Josh Hamilton (blurred vision), fell 6-3 to the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Safeco Field. Starting pitcher Martin Perez struggled in his first start since July 24, giving up three earned runs in just four innings of work.
What it means: Oakland lost on a game-winning home run in New York, so the Rangers' American League West lead remains at four games. Texas' magic number to clinch the West shrinks to nine.
Perez has problems: The 21-year-old lefty pitched 4 1/3 innings of hitless ball against the Mariners last Sunday, but he didn't enjoy the same success Friday. Perez made his fourth career start and labored through four innings. The Venezuela native took 42 pitches to get through two frames and struggled with his control. He threw two wild pitches and gave up three earned runs off six hits.
Unlucky eight: Texas has gone winless in the last eight games that Perez has pitched this season. It's not as if Perez has pitched poorly -- his ERA sits at 3.78. Maybe it's just a bad coincidence.
Swapping spots: Scott Feldman came in to relieve Perez to start the fifth. Interestingly, it was Perez who took Feldman's spot in the rotation after Feldman gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings against Seattle last weekend. But the former starter was impressive out of the bullpen, striking out the side in the fifth and retiring eight of the nine batters he faced. He also fanned five in three innings.
Picking up the slack: David Murphy did all he could to make up for the absences of Beltre and Hamilton. He cranked out his first home run since Sept. 2 in the sixth inning and drove in all three of the Rangers' RBIs. Murphy came into Friday's game with one hit in his last 12 at-bats but ended the day a triple shy of the cycle.
Young keeps hitting, struggles on D: Despite a forgettable night on defense at third base, Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a fourth-inning single. Young has hit safely in 16 of 18 games and now has 116 hits at Safeco Field, the most ever for an opposing player at this park. But he also grounded into two double plays. On the field, Young had an error and saw several other opportunities whiz by him at the hot corner.
Up next: Left-hander Matt Harrison (17-9, 3.26 ERA) will try to become the Rangers' first 18-game winner since Kenny Rogers in 2004 on Saturday against Seattle. Beltre should be back in the lineup. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. on ESPN 103.3 FM and FSSW. Former Rangers prospect Blake Beavan (9-10, 4.88) starts for the Mariners.