Rangers sweep Mariners

ARLINGTON - Ramon Vazquez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning off previously unblemished closer J.J. Putz, and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 on Wednesday night to complete a four-game sweep.

Putz hadn't allowed a run in 16 road appearances this season and had converted a majors-best 31 consecutive save chances since last season, including all 29 this year.

Having not pitched since Friday, Putz came on with one on and one out in the eighth. He struck out Gerald Laird, but Vazquez hit a 414-foot drive to right-center -- his fifth of the season.

Adrian Beltre tied a team record with three doubles and drove in four runs for the Mariners, who have lost six straight games since getting within one game of the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels. It is the third time this season the Mariners have lost six in a row, but they have only slipped to 3 1/2 games back.

Marlon Byrd led off the eighth with a single and Frank Catalanotto had a sacrifice bunt -- both against different pitchers before Putz came in the game.

Kenny Lofton homered and drove in three runs in what might have been his last home game for the Rangers.

Lofton's two-run homer in the third put the Rangers up 3-1. After Seattle tied the game, the 40-year-old added a tiebreaking RBI single in the fifth and scored on a double by Mark Teixeira, who may also be gone by time Texas plays at home again Aug. 6.

Texas matched its longest winning streak of the season with the four-game sweep, the Rangers' first since also doing it at home against Seattle last August.

Seattle rallied in the eighth, with Jose Lopez reaching on a one-out single against Frank Francisco before Joaquin Benoit (4-3) took over.

Benoit had allowed only one run over 18 2-3 innings in his previous 14 outings before giving up three doubles. Pinch-hitter by Ben Broussard doubled, Beltre had a two-run hit and scored on a two-bagger by Raul Ibanez to make it 6-5.

With the Rangers again in last place in the AL West, there has been plenty of interest from contending teams in acquiring Teixeira and Lofton before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline. And general manager Jon Daniels is listening to the offers.

Lofton was 2-for-5 to raise his average to .303 -- four points better than his career average over 17 seasons. Texas became his 11th team when he signed a one-year deal last winter. The still-speedy outfielder, with 21 of his 620 steals this season, has been to the playoffs 10 times with six teams.

Teixeira, the switch-hitting slugger who has won two Gold Gloves at first base, is eligible for salary arbitration after this season and can become a free agent after 2008. He is hitting .299 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs despite missing 27 games with a strained left quadriceps after playing a team-record 507 consecutive games.

Catalanotto and Laird had back-to-back doubles in the second to put the Rangers up 1-0. Travis Metcalf, 9-for-13 his last four games, had a leadoff single in the third before Lofton's seventh homer.

Michael Young, who was 2-for-4, was thrown out at home while trying to score from first on Teixeira's double in the fifth.

Ichiro Suzuki, the only player with more hits than Young since 2003, also had two hits and scored twice. But he struck out with two on to end the sixth and popped out to short center field with two more on in the eighth.

Notes

Rangers starter McCarthy allowed three runs in five innings and still hasn't won since May 20 at Houston. Seattle's Miguel Batista had allowed only 12 earned runs over 44 innings his last seven starts, but gave up five runs in six innings.


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