ARLINGTON, Texas — Star rookie Julio Rodriguez got two hits in his return to the Seattle lineup and the Mariners took over the first wild-card position in the American League by beating the Texas Rangers 6-2 on Friday night.
The 21-year-old Rodriguez, who put on an impressive show in the All-Star Home Run Derby, had missed the Mariners’ previous 11 games with a wrist injury.
Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking, opposite-field single to shallow right with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. He was the first batter to face Jose Leclerc, who relieved Taylor Hearn (5-7).
George Kirby (4-3) allowed two runs in 5.2 innings on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk. It was the rookie’s second straight win.
The victory, combined with Toronto’s loss to Cleveland, gave the Mariners a half-game lead over the Blue Jays.
The Mariners are 12-2 with nine consecutive wins this season against the Rangers, who dropped to a season-low 14 games under .500.
Seattle took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning and Eugenio Suarez added a two-run double.
The Rangers scored on Marcus Semien’s groundout in the third and Jonah Heim’s single in the sixth.
Texas used a bullpen game with Josh Sborz making his first start in 88 big league appearances.
Sborz took a liner off his upper right arm during the game’s third batter, Mitch Haniger. Sborz finished the inning with one more pitch and was replaced in the second by Hearn, the first of five Texas relievers.
The Rangers’ first hit was Nathaniel Lowe’s infield single leading off the second, but he was doubled off first to end the inning following a running, leaping catch by Haniger at the wall in right field on a ball hit by Leody Taveras.
Texas manager Chris Woodward was ejected by Jerry Meals, the plate umpire and crew chief, in the bottom of the fourth inning during Adolis Garcia’s leadoff at-bat.
Seattle was 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, Texas 1 for 6. … Lowe has an 18-game on-base streak, the longest by a Ranger this season. … Haniger had three singles and has hit safely in all six games since returning from an ankle sprain that sidelined him since late April. … The Mariners designated RHP Ken Giles for assignment.