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TEX@SEA: Figgins' single breaks up no-no in sixth

SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge vowed Thursday afternoon that his team would continue to compete, no matter what. But the club didn't bring much to the party on Thursday night in a 5-0 loss to the front-running Rangers as Derek Holland held Seattle to five hits.

The Mariners (43-49) suffered their sixth straight setback, have lost 10 of their past 14 and now trail the Rangers by 8 1/2 games in the suddenly widening American League West standings. Texas (52-41) has won eight straight.

Seattle came out of the All-Star break looking out of sync as starter Jason Vargas gave up a season-high three home runs and the Mariners remained stuck in a rut that has seen them total just nine runs over the past six games.

"Really, the story was their guy and the way he pitched and what we did not do against him," said Wedge. "He threw a real good ballgame. He was aggressive, strong and had real good command. He had everything in sync tonight. A couple of those sinkers just exploded on the plate."

Meanwhile, Vargas surrendered 12 hits -- his previous high this year was nine -- and five runs in six innings, his record dipping to 6-7 with a 3.68 ERA.

Vargas had allowed just one home run over his last four starts, but gave up two in the first two innings to the hard-hitting Rangers as Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz both went deep. Mike Napoli added another home run in the sixth for Texas, which now has 115 long balls on the season compared to Seattle's 55.

Vargas said other than a changeup he left over the plate to Hamilton, he wouldn't take anything back.

"Other than Hamilton, they hit some pretty good pitches out," Vargas said. "I can't really make those pitches better unless I throw them in the dirt. So I don't know. Cruz hit it pretty hard, but it kind of crept over so tip your hat to him. But those were good pitches where I wanted them. Good-hitting teams can make you pay sometimes."

Cruz has three home runs off Vargas in 15 at-bats over his career, and he increased his team lead to 21 this season.

The Mariners would have settled for any sort of hits against the left-handed Holland, who had a perfect game for five innings before walking Franklin Gutierrez and then giving up a single to Chone Figgins to start the sixth.

But Holland escaped that jam by retiring Greg Halman, Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan, then got Gutierrez to fly out with runners on first and third and two out in the seventh.

The shutout was Holland's second in a row and third on the season, tying him for the AL lead with Vargas and Tampa Bay's James Shields. The 24-year-old acknowledged that pitching in Safeco Field is a comfortable setting for a left-hander.

"Definitely it is, but it's never easy," Holland said. "You've still got to make pitches. Their hitters are pretty good. They're in our division and they want to win, too. They want to be in first place, too. It's not an easy game."

The Mariners saw their team batting average fall to .223 on the season as only Miguel Olivo managed to get to Holland much with a 2-for-4 day.

"He was just going after guys with the guys with his fastball and then later he started using his off-speed pitches a little more," said rookie left fielder Greg Halman, one of five Mariners to go hitless on the night. "He knew what his plan was and he did a pretty good job."

The Mariners' outfield defense didn't help much early as Ichiro went back to the wall on the Cruz shot, but didn't jump well as the ball sailed just over the fence in right. Yorvit Torrealba, the next batter, then hit a line drive to center that Gutierrez had trouble tracking and lost as it bounced out of his glove.

Torrealba was given a double on the play, with Gutierrez's string of 238 errorless games remaining intact.

On the other side, Ichiro nearly beat out an infield single leading off the fourth, but second baseman Ian Kinsler redirected the ball -- which never even got in his glove -- to first baseman Napoli to get the out by a half-step.

Jeff Gray, who pitched just three times in his first two months with the Mariners, made his second appearance in the last three games and held Texas hitless in the seventh and eighth innings before Chris Ray closed things out.

"Jeff was really good," Wedge said. "You talk about guys working their way in and out and he's working his way back in."

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