SEATTLE — Blake Beavan didn’t hide the importance of shutting out the organization that found him expendable just a couple of years ago.
Beavan, the one-time Texas prospect, tossed seven shutout innings against his former club, Michael Saunders hit a solo homer in the second inning and the Seattle Mariners took their second straight from the Rangers, 1-0 on Saturday night.
Seattle won consecutive games for just the third time this month and kept the Rangers from extending their lead in the AL West race.
“It means a lot. I’m from there. I got traded by them so it means a lot to beat those guys,” Beavan said. “They are the best hitting team in baseball right there.”
And Beavan (10-10) held the Rangers’ bats quiet for most of the night, pitching into the eighth inning before giving way to the Mariners’ bullpen that closed out the victory. He gave up eight hits, but walked only one batter and struck out two.
When Beavan found trouble in the eighth inning, the Mariners bullpen helped out. Mitch Moreland led off with a double and Beavan walked Craig Gentry. Seattle manager Eric Wedge went to reliever Josh Kinney, who struck out Ian Kinsler after he was twice unable to get a bunt down. Elvis Andrus then flew out to center for the second out Michael Young struck out to end the threat.
While the Rangers were lamenting their poor execution, the Mariners were raving about the effort of Kinney. Tom Wilhelmsen then cruised through the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances.
“Everything happened how we wanted it to, from the first guy to the last guy that inning,” Kinney said.
Beavan, who came to Seattle in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Texas during the 2010 season, allowed a runner to reach base in the first six innings, but escaped every scoring threat from the Rangers. Kinsler was left stranded at third base in the first inning, but the Rangers’ best chance was cut down at the plate in the fourth. Nelson Cruz tried scoring from first with two outs on David Murphy’s double into the right field corner. The relay throw from Casper Wells to Kyle Seager was on target and his throw to Jesus Montero beat Cruz by 10 feet.
Beavan also got key double plays in the third and fifth innings and snapped a two-game losing streak.
“I couldn’t have done it without the defense, the plays they made behind me, Kinney coming in there, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Beavan said.
Texas starter Matt Harrison (17-10) had won nine straight times against Seattle, the second-longest streak in Rangers’ history against one team, but was not able to extend the roll despite holding the Mariners to just one run.
Harrison was trying to become the first pitcher to win five decisions against Seattle in a season and tie Kenny Rogers’ franchise record for most wins by a left-hander. Outside of the homer to Saunders — his 17th of the season — Harrison did enough to earn the victory. Harrison allowed just seven hits, struck out six but tied a season-high with four walks.
“We finally figured out a way to beat him, just don’t let them score any runs,” Saunders said.
Harrison nearly didn’t make it out of the fourth inning after giving up consecutive singles to Seager and Montero and a walk to Justin Smoak, loading the bases with no outs. With Roy Oswalt warming up in the bullpen, Harrison got a broken-bat lineout from Saunders, struck Alex Liddi on a high fastball and saw Luis Jimenez ground out to first to end the threat.
“I got better as the game went on. My command got better,” Harrison said. “Saunders’ pitch, I didn’t make a mistake. It’s where I wanted it to be but he got extension on it and got it. That wasn’t the only mistake I made but the only one that got me.”
Texas has now lost two straight for the first time since dropping three consecutive to the Yankees in the middle of August. The Rangers missed a chance to put additional distance between themselves and Oakland in the AL West race after the A’s fell 10-9 to the Yankees in 14 innings earlier Saturday.
Texas will head into the final game of its road trip on Sunday against Seattle before heading home for seven critical games — four versus Oakland and three against the Angels — that could finally cinch the division race.
“We’re not pressing. When you facing good pitching like the Mariners got, it just comes down to execution,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “You execute and you got a chance. We just didn’t execute tonight.”
NOTES: Seattle is now 6-3 in 1-0 games this season. … Texas DH Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth. … Fergie Jenkins is the only Texas pitcher to defeat an opponent five times in one season, doing it to Minnesota and Oakland in 1974.