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Mariners lose fourth straight

4/25/2004

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Rangers are doing their best to leave the Seattle Mariners behind.

Hank Blalock hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning,
and the Rangers beat the Mariners 3-0 on Saturday night to move two
games over .500 for the first time in almost four years.

"This is still early in the season," Texas manager Buck
Showalter said. "We'll see where we go from here."

Texas (10-8), which holds a share of the AL West lead for the
first time since winning its 2003 opener, had not been two games
over since it was 30-28 on June 8, 2000. The Rangers have finished
last in the division the past four seasons.

Seattle, which lost its fourth game in a row, has been in last
place in the AL West for more than two weeks after winning more
than 90 games the past four years. The last time the Mariners spent
more than seven straight days in the cellar was in 1998.

"There's not much else I can say to these guys," Seattle
manager Bob Melvin said. "We lead the league in meetings this
year."

Jay Powell (1-0) allowed one hit in two innings, and Jeff Nelson
finished the seven-hitter against his former team for his first
save. Rangers starter Joaquin Benoit allowed five hits over six
innings in his first start this season, striking out five and
inducing a pair of double-play grounders.

The Rangers picked a good team for Benoit to make his season
debut against. He has given up just two earned runs to the Mariners
in 23 innings.

"It was kind of hard," Benoit said of not starting since Sept.
24 of last season, "But it's something I was trying to keep out of
my mind. I didn't want to go out there and try to do too much."

Seattle, which has hit into 11 double plays over the past four
games, lost its fourth straight and was blanked for the second time
this season. Texas got its second shutout.

The Mariners came into the game 12th in the American League in
runs.

"We're struggling offensively right now," Seattle's Ichiro
Suzuki said through a translator. "We're pressing because we want
something good to happen."

Freddy Garcia (0-1) took a five-hitter into the eighth, when
Blalock homered with one out, his fourth of the season. Kevin Mench
added a two-run double off Julio Mateo.

"I didn't feel comfortable in my first couple of at bats
against him," Blalock said. "I just wanted to stay back and hit
something hard up the middle."

Garcia, who did not speak to reporters after the game, gave up
three runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. In two other starts, he
pitched seven scoreless innings only to get a non-decision.

"He's a little snakebit right now," Melvin said. "He's
pitched three games like that and he has nothing to show for it but
a loss."

Seattle threatened in the eighth when Dan Wilson singled off
Powell leading off. Wilson was forced out at second on Quinton
McCracken's bunt attempt, but McCracken stole second and advanced
to third on a throwing error by catcher Gerald Laird.

Ichiro then took a called third strike, and Scott Spiezio hit an
inning-ending flyout.

Game notes
Texas' Kenny Rogers will miss his scheduled start Sunday
because of flu-like symptoms. Texas manager Buck Showalter said
Rogers may be used out of the bullpen if needed on Sunday. ...
Seattle's Raul Ibanez was not in the starting lineup because of a
bruised tailbone he sustained Friday in a collision with Spiezio.
... The Rangers' Laynce Nix extended his hitting streak to six
games. He has hit safely in eight of nine games.