Shelton helps Mariners beat Rangers 5-3

SEATTLE (AP)—Chris Shelton made a nice impression on his new team and hurt his former club with one swing Sunday.

Shelton and Rob Johnson hit consecutive RBI singles with two out in the seventh inning, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers.

Shelton hit .216 in 41 games with the Rangers last season and agreed to a minor league deal with the Mariners in December. He batted .319 with 12 homers and 64 RBIs for Triple-A Tacoma before he was promoted Wednesday.

He grounded out in Friday’s 6-4 loss to Texas in his only at-bat before coming up big Sunday in another pinch-hit appearance.

“I don’t want to say you get used to it but just as long as you are prepared when you get called, that’s the biggest thing,” Shelton said of pinch hitting. “I was ready … and I put a good swing on it today.”

All-Star Ichiro Suzuki had two hits and drove in a run for the Mariners, raising his batting average to .362 and extending his hitting streak to 11 games.

Hank Blalock and Nelson Cruz homered for the Rangers. Cruz will participate in the home run derby Monday night in St. Louis.

Derek Holland and Darren O’Day (2-1) combined to retire the first two batters in the Seattle seventh, but Ken Griffey Jr. followed with the first of four straight singles for the Mariners. C.J. Wilson replaced O’Day after Franklin Gutierrez’s hit put runners on first and second.

Shelton then lifted a full-count pitch just over shortstop Elvis Andrus, driving in pinch-runner Josh Wilson. Johnson hit C.J. Wilson’s next pitch to the same spot to score Gutierrez.

“C.J. makes a pitch on Shelton. He catches it at the end of the bat and pushes it over,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “Then Johnson gets another. It doesn’t matter how you get the hits. They got them and plated two runs.”

Miguel Batista (6-3) pitched 1 1-3 innings to get the win and David Aardsma got three outs for his 20th save in 22 chances.

Seattle won three of four against the Rangers to improve to 46-42 heading into the All-Star break. They were 37-58 at the break last season.

“If we were winning one way, it would be hard to say we are a good team,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “But with so many people contributing, it shows that we are a good team.”

Erik Bedard walked four in 5 2-3 innings, but limited Texas to two runs and three hits. The left-hander got two key double plays to help him get out of trouble.

Rangers starter Dustin Nippert wasn’t as fortunate, failing to make it out of the fourth inning. Holland entered after Ronny Cedeno’s single loaded the bases with two out. Suzuki made it 2-0 with an infield hit and Russell Branyan walked with the bases loaded to force in another run.

The Rangers tied it in the sixth. Blalock hit a two-run drive off Bedard for his 19th homer and Cruz hit Batista’s first pitch for his 22nd of the season.

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