Long balls extend the M’s misery

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers managed to keep their focus even after sitting through a rain delay of more than two hours.

Marlon Byrd’s three-run homer in the fifth inning broke a tie and sent the streaking Rangers on to a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night in a game that was eight minutes less in actual playing time than the weather delay.

Heavy rain began falling in the bottom of the seventh, and the game was stopped for 2 hours, 18 minutes. In the clubhouse, the Rangers passed the time by watching the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 11-5 in 11 innings.

When play resumed, the Mariners pulled within a run in the eighth before C.J. Wilson retired the final four batters for his 12th save, helping the Rangers remain three games behind the Angels in the division.

“It was pretty easy,” Byrd said of staying motivated during the delay. “Right now we are playing for something. If we were 20 games out we would probably be ready to go home. We sat and watched the Angels game and watched them do their whole thing and come back like they always do and beat up on teams. That got us pumped and we were ready to go out and finish this thing.”

Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the first on a homer by Jose Lopez, but Taylor Teagarden had a sacrifice fly in the second and added a solo homer in the fifth to tie it.

Texas then got two-out singles from Omar Vizquel and Michael Young before Byrd ripped the first pitch from Jason Vargas (3-5) into the seats in left for his 11th homer.

“I was sitting on a changeup down,” Byrd said. “He got me out twice with it earlier in the game so I was hoping I would get another one and get a good swing on it. That was it. Finally I got one up in the zone and I put a good swing on it.”

Wilson came on in the eighth to earn a save in his fifth straight appearance. He’s retired 23 of his last 27 batters.

“It might be midnight but we were going to finish this game,” Wilson said. “We had to go out there prepared and ready to shut it down.”

Vicente Padilla (8-5) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings in his first appearance since July 17, his last start before he was diagnosed with swine flu.

Vizquel had three hits as the Rangers won for the 10th time in 12 games to improve to 58-43, their second-best record after 101 games in franchise history. Texas’ best mark after that many games is 60-41 in 1999, the last time the Rangers made the playoffs.

Padilla was scratched from a start on Tuesday night because he was still weak from the illness, and he missed a scheduled start July 22 due to flulike symptoms. Subsequent lab tests revealed that Padilla had H1NI influenza A.

After retiring the first two Mariners in the first, Padilla walked Russell Branyan and gave up a first-pitch homer to Lopez.

Seattle, which has lost six of its last eight and is 3-8 against Texas this season, got a sixth-inning RBI single from Ken Griffey Jr. to narrow the deficit to 5-3.

Lopez’s RBI single in the eighth off Jason Grilli got the Mariners within 5-4.

Vargas, who gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings, has lost five of his last six decisions.

“I thought for the first four innings, Vargas was pretty good,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I thought he kept the ball down and kept them off-speed. The game came down to the 1-2 pitch he left up to Teagarden. He left a couple of (other) pitches in the inning and they had four runs and that was the momentum swing.”

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