Happ strikes out 9 as Mariners beat Rangers 2-1

ARLINGTON, Texas — Just enough is still enough.

The Mariners made it two in a row Tuesday over the Texas Rangers by getting another strong start from J.A. Happ before a bullpen parade nursed home a 2-1 victory at Globe Life Park.

“These are the kind of games we’ve got to win,” Happ said, “if want to get to where we want to go. It good to see the last few days we’ve done that — won some tight ballgames.”

Fernando Rodney closed out the victory with a one-two-three ninth inning — See? They happen. — for his sixth save in seven chances. The Mariners used four other relievers to get the game from Happ to Rodney.

“I’m just trying to keep us in it,” Happ said, “keep us right there, keep the lead, obviously, if you can. The bullpen came in and picked me up. Did a great job tonight.”

It all started with Happ, though. He was dominant in limiting the Rangers to one run and six hits in 62⁄3 innings while walking one and striking out nine.

The Mariners provided Happ (2-1) with two runs in the fourth by capitalizing on a defensive misplay that resulted in a leadoff triple for Nelson Cruz, who had three of the Mariners’ seven hits.

Cruz scored on a ground out before the Mariners got their other run on a laser-shot homer by Rickie Weeks. That was it. Happ and the bullpen made it stand up.

This makes four quality starts by Happ, who lowered his earned-run average to 2.30.

“Consistency the whole time, really,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Felix (Hernandez) on the front end, and Happ on the back end, have really stabilized the rotation for us.

“It’s given us an opportunity to get the other starters in their right groove. I think it’s all coming together for us.”

The Mariners’ rotation has yielded just seven earned runs over 452⁄3 innings in the last seven games, which translates to a 1.38 ERA. That the Mariners are just 4-3 in that span points to a scuffling attack.

“Listen, our guys are grinding at-bats out,” McClendon said. “It hasn’t been pretty. We all know how it goes. We’re going to break out, and they’re going to score runs. And I think it’s right around the corner.”

Happ carried a 2-0 lead into the seventh but surrendered a leadoff single to Jake Smolinski. Happ retired the next two hitters, but Delino DeShields snapped a 0-for-12 skid by pumping an RBI double into the left-center gap.

Tyler Olson replaced Happ and ended the inning by getting Leonys Martin to ground out to first.

The Mariners turned to Dominic Leone in the eighth — and he gave up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus on an 0-2 pitch. That brought Charlie Furbush into the game for a left-on-left matchup with face Prince Fielder.

When Fielder flied to center, the Mariners played matchup again and brought in Yoervis Medina to face Adrian Beltre, who flied out to deep left. Medina got away with a mistake.

“It was a slider up…,” Medina said, rolling his eyes.

Medina then ended the inning by retiring Robinson Chirinos on a fielder’s choice to third.

That got the game to the ninth, where Rodney needed just 10 pitches to record two strikeouts and a game-ending pop to short.

Texas starter Ross Detwiler (0-3) gave up five earned runs in each of his three previous starts for a 10.95 ERA. That included his last start, April 19, against the Mariners, who rallied for an 11-10 victory at Safeco Field.

This time, he held the Mariners to two runs in 51⁄3 innings — and probably deserved better.

Cruz started the fourth inning with a triple to right when Smolinski overran the ball, leapt against the wall and fell down. (It was misplayed far worse than that makes it sound.)

The Rangers chose to play their infield back, which meant Kyle Seager’s grounder to second produced the run.

Weeks followed with a line-drive homer to left for a 2-0 lead.

“Anytime you hit a home run,” Weeks said, “it’s always special. We’ve got a guy in Happ who has been throwing the ball great for us. I was just glad to get him some runs.”

Just enough as it turned out.

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