SEATTLE (AP) -- So what if he's a starter? Miguel Batista was destined to close this game.
The Mariners' bullpen was a mess after just two games. All-Star closer J.J. Putz had just gone on the disabled list with a ribcage injury.And the fortune cookie Batista had to finish off his pregame dinner declared: "Someone will need your help this month."Carlos Silva allowed three hits and one run in his Seattle debut, Jose Lopez hit a three-run homer and Batista, the No. 5 starter, turned his cookie into an omen by getting his first save in three years to close out the Mariners' 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers.When Batista showed John McLaren what fortune cookie he had drawn at dinner, the Mariners manager exclaimed: "Oh, no you didn't!"Putz had gone on the disabled list for an indefinite period hours earlier with a ribcage injury, after allowing a ninth-inning home run to Josh Hamilton in a rare blown save Tuesday. The next option to close, hard-throwing right-hander Mark Lowe, had pitched in consecutive games and is coming off two elbow surgeries in 19 months. Plus, Thursday was an off day for Seattle.Just like that, the starter was now closer for a day."Well, it is actually an interesting way of using your bullets," Batista said.McLaren was left with a huge grin."Everything came together for us pretty well there," he said.Batista saved 31 games for Toronto in 2005 but led Seattle with 16 wins as a starter last season. He got shoved to the back of the rotation by the arrival of Silva and new ace Erik Bedard and was preparing for a routine bullpen session during batting practice when McLaren told him to save himself for a possible ninth-inning bailout.When Sean Green walked Hamilton on four pitches to begin the ninth, bailout time arrived. Batista quickly got Hank Blalock and Milton Bradley to fly out. Then Frank Catalanotto grounded out for Batista's first save since Sept. 27, 2005, at Boston."I would have used all my pitches during batting practice. It's a little, not nerve wracking, but a concern to do it in a game with the heart of the lineup coming up," Batista said."As a starter, you can pitch six or seven innings and pace. As a closer, you have to put everything you have into that one inning and challenge guys."Silva challenged the Rangers all night -- and won.The Mariners were laughed at for signing the 270-pound right-hander with a lineman's build to a to $48 million, four-year contract to be their No. 3 starter. He looks worth it so far."Silva was spectacular," McLaren said. "Another No. 1 pitcher for us. You can't pitch much better than that."Silva (1-0) showed off his usual sinkerball for which he is known for getting ground balls, a tricky changeup, plus a new cutter he learned from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre a few weeks ago. They -- and just about everything else -- worked in the colder, heavier air better than in the Arizona desert."It's hard to believe how weather can affect you. The ball was moving great," Silva said.He didn't allow a hit from Ian Kinsler's leadoff double until his only real blemish, a home run by former Mariner Ben Broussard leading off the sixth. Broussard's first home run for Texas plopped onto the top of the right-field fence and bounced past to make it 4-1. It came on an 0-2 that Silva left up.Seattle's new top triumvirate of Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Silva have allowed two earned runs combined in three starts."Oh, yeah, that's the way everyone was expecting it to be from the starters," Silva said.Jason Jennings (0-1) allowed four runs on five hits in five innings, giving up Lopez's three-run shot with two outs in the fifth. That came on a full count, after he had Lopez down 0-2."I was doing everything I wanted to do, but you can't make mistakes like that with their guy is throwing as well as he did tonight," Jennings said.Lopez, the No. 2 hitter, has five RBIs in three games. He was an All-Star in 2006 while batting second during the first half of '06 then slumped for a season and a half while at the bottom of the order.
Texas still hasn't won an opening series since 2001. ... Betancourt, the No. 9 hitter, is 6-for-11 (.545) through three games.