SEATTLE (AP) -- Now that Freddy Garcia is gone from Seattle, Joel
Pineiro wants to become the Mariners' No. 1 pitcher.
"Getting the nod and saying you're going to be the opening day
starter is going to something great," Pineiro said. "In the
future, I would like to be known as the ace. But that's in the
future."Rich Aurilia hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning and Pineiro
won his third straight decision, leading the Mariners to a 4-3
victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.The Mariners traded their two-time All-Star Garcia to the
Chicago White Sox on Sunday for catcher Miguel Olivo, who made his
Seattle debut as Pineiro's batterymate.Pineiro was a 16-game winner last season and started the season
as No. 2 in the rotation. The 25-year-old right-hander wants to
start for the Mariners on opening day 2005."I want to have that challenge and prove to them that I can be
that guy," he said. "I'm a guy who I don't care who I'm facing or
who's up there hitting."Manager Bob Melvin and the Mariners' front office have high
expectations for Pineiro, who was a 12th-round draft pick by the
Mariners in 1997."Freddy's gone and we really count on Joel," Melvin said. "We
really need him to step up. We feel he's a No. 1 guy waiting to
happen. He's pitching better and better."Texas beat the Mariners 8-5 on Monday night, when they hit five
homers."The big difference from last night was they had Pineiro,"
Rangers manager Buck Showalter. "They got a little better pitching
performance."The last-place Mariners broke a seven-game losing streak against
the Rangers, who lost for only second time in 11 games. Both
defeats have been by one run.Trailing 3-1, the Mariners went ahead with three runs in the
sixth. Jolbert Cabrera doubled, went to third on Edgar Martinez's
single and scored on Bret Boone's sacrifice fly. Then Aurilia
homered 409 feet to left, his fourth home run of the season, off
Joaquin Benoit (2-3).It's been a frustrating season for the Mariners and particularly
Aurilia who was signed as a free agent by Seattle in January, the
same day the team traded shortstop Carlos Guillen to Detroit.
Guillen is having an All-Star-caliber season for the Tigers.Aurilia is hitting .242 and had only 27 RBI. He's failed to
provide the power numbers the Mariners expected from him. Aurilia
had 37 homers and 97 RBI, both career highs, with the San
Francisco Giants in 2001.The Mariners are believed to be trying to trade Aurilia to a
contending team for the final half of the season."The season has been frustrating to all of us," Aurilia said.
"Not only just one of two guys. So it's nice to get a win tonight
and it's nice to get a big hit. It would be a lot nicer if we were
a little bit closer in the standings."Pineiro (4-8) pitched seven innings and gave up three runs -- two
earned -- on five hits and two walks, tying a season-high nine
strikeouts. He is 3-0 in four starts since a seven-game losing
streak.The Rangers scored five runs in six innings off Pineiro in Texas
last Thursday in a game they won 9-7 in 18 innings. Pineiro had a
no decision in that game."He looked a lot better today," Rod Barajas of Texas said.
"He used the sinker more than he did at our place. It seemed like
he went out there with a plan and stuck to it."Shigetoshi Hasegawa pitched a scoreless eighth for the Mariners
and Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 19
opportunities.The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the third when Jason Conti
doubled, Michael Young tripled and Pineiro threw a wild pitch to
allow a sliding Young to score.Texas got an unearned run in the fourth to go ahead 3-0 after
David Dellucci reached first on an error by first baseman John
Olerud. Olerud was jarred by third baseman Scott Spiezio when he
attempted to catch Dellucci's pop fly on the mound. Gary Matthews'
ground-rule double moved Dellucci to third and he scored on
Barajas' sacrifice fly.The Mariners scored in the bottom of the first on Boone's bloop
single that scored Cabrera, who doubled and went to third on
Barrjas' passed ball.Benoit pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits
and a walk, with two strikeouts.
Olerud, who won the last two Gold Gloves at first, was
charged with his first error of this season. ... All-Star third
baseman Hank Blalock of Texas, who homered twice Monday night,
struck out swinging three times and went 0-for-4. ... Young had his
major league-leading 37th multihit game. He also leads the majors
with 109 hits. ... Barajas went 0-for-3 and had his career-high
12-game hitting streak end. It was the longest hitting streak by a
Rangers player this season.