SEATTLE (AP) - It took an inning for Colby Lewis and rookie catcher Brett Nicholas to get in sync, but after that it was a successful night for both of them and the Texas Rangers.
Lewis allowed one run on four hits over six innings against Seattle’s struggling offense and Nicholas had two hits and threw out a runner at second in his major league debut to lead the Rangers to a 7-3 victory over the Mariners on Monday night.
“Hats off to Brett,” Lewis said. “He did a great job back there tonight, just setting up. I felt comfortable with him catching. I wasn’t worried one bit.”
Lewis (1-0) allowed a first-inning run on Nelson Cruz’s two-out RBI double, then retired 13 straight before allowing an infield single to open the sixth when he failed to cover on Leonys Martin’s bouncer to first.
“We found a couple things that were working for him and we didn’t deviate from it,” Nicholas said. “We had a plan and stuck to it and it showed. I think we set down at one point 12 or 13 in a row. He was just cruising and I was just making sure I caught the ball well and threw it back to him so he could keep it going.”
It was the fourth straight loss for Seattle, which scored just four runs while being swept at home by Oakland in a three-game weekend series. Texas built a 7-1 lead before Cruz’s second homer of the season, a two-run shot off Keone Kela in the eighth.
“We struggled to put consistent quality at-bats together,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It just isn’t happening right now. What are you going to do? You just got to keep battling, keep fighting through it, and eventually we will come out of it.”
The Rangers erased a 1-0 deficit with runs in the second, third and fourth off Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1), who gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings.
Texas tied it in the second when Ian Desmond walked with one out and advanced on wild pitch on a swinging third strike to Mitch Moreland. Elvis Andrus then blooped an RBI single into shallow right.
Prince Fielder’s sacrifice fly in the third put Texas up 2-1.
The Rangers made it 3-1 in the fourth on singles by Moreland and Ryan Rua and an RBI double by Rougned Odor.
Nicholas, called up Sunday from Triple-A Round Rock, doubled to open the seventh off Mike Montgomery for his first big league hit. He scored on Fielder’s line single to left just over the outstretched glove of Ketel Marte.
Seattle loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Sam Dyson retired Norichika Aoki on a sharp grounder to first.
“We had the bases loaded and Aoki actually hits a ball OK down the line, they make a play, that happens, it’s the big leagues,” Servais said. “We need a little good fortune to turn our way. But we need to keep battling and we got to make it happen, nobody is going to give it to us. I think we got to be a little more aggressive and play with a little more edge.”
The Rangers added three runs on four hits in the eighth, keyed by Odor’s two-run single off the glove of Robinson Cano with the bases loaded.
Nicholas might have thrown the most important strike of the first inning. Aoki led off with a walk, but Nicholas threw him out at second on an attempted steal. Kyle Seager then walked and Cruz followed with the one-out double.
“He helped me out huge there in the first inning throwing out Aoki,” Lewis said. “He definitely came up big tonight for us.”
ANOTHER HOT START
Texas outfield Nomar Mazara was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Since making his debut Sunday after being called up from Triple A, he is hitting .625 (5 for 8) with a homer and two RBIs.
Rangers: Delino DeShields was out of the lineup with a sore shoulder. It was a good day for DeShields to get a rest, as he is 0 for 10 lifetime against Iwakuma. With DeShields out, Odor hit leadoff for Texas.
Mariners: RHP Joaquin Benoit was unavailable for a second straight day while he deals with back and shoulder stiffness. Benoit said he did not consider it to be serious and was something he dealt with during spring training as well. … LHP Charlie Furbush played catch at 75 feet on Monday. It was his first throwing session since early in spring training after he experienced tightness in the deltoid area of his left shoulder.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland did not get a decision in his first start, a 4-3 walkoff loss to the Angels. Holland gave up three runs and two walks in five innings, for which he needed 92 pitches. Holland missed most of 2014 with injuries and was limited to 10 starts last season with a shoulder injury.
Mariners: LHP Wade Miley, acquired during the offseason from Boston, makes his home debut. In his first start at Texas, he allowed five runs on seven hits - including a three-run homer to Fielder - in six innings, but he did not get a decision in the Mariners’ 9-5 victory.
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