SEATTLE -- The Rangers have a 10-game winning streak, but their reaction at the end of Saturday night suggested this victory was special.This was not a July reaction to a victory -- this was an "October" reaction, and manager Ron Washington could understand why. "They had fun out there tonight and should be excited by the way they played," Washington said after C.J. Wilson out-dueled Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in a 5-1 victory at Safeco Field. "They were facing a good pitcher and did what they had to do. They should be proud. They played good baseball." Wilson wasn't happy that the Rangers' scoreless-innings streak came to an end at 33 -- tied for the second longest in club history behind a 39-inning streak in 1981. Otherwise, though, the Rangers were really feeling good about themselves after their latest win left them with a three-game lead over the Angels in the American League West. "Anytime you go up against a pitcher like Felix and beat him, you're going to have a victory like this," Ian Kinsler said as the victory music pulsated loudly through the Rangers' clubhouse. The 10-game winning streak is the third-longest run in Rangers history. They won 14 consecutive games in 1991 and 11 straight last season. "Obviously, we like to win," said infielder Michael Young. "We like the way we are playing right now, and our pitchers are leading the way. This was a hard-fought game. It's not easy going against Felix, he was making good pitches." Kinsler had particular reason to smile. He led the Rangers with two home runs, including one to lead off the first inning. It's the fifth time Kinsler has led off a game with a home run this season and the 18th time in his career. But it's the first time it has ever happened to Hernandez in 193 career starts. Kinsler also had an eighth-inning home run off Hernandez, becoming just the third player to hit two off Seattle's ace in one game. "It was the same thing I'm always thinking, just try to get us going," Kinsler said of his shot to left field on the third pitch of the game. "He's a guy you want to get on early, because once he settles into his game, he's one of the best. He threw me three straight fastballs, and the third one was over the plate and I was able to get it." Elvis Andrus had three hits, including a go-ahead RBI in the sixth right after the scoreless-innings streak came to an end. He also contributed to a game-breaking three-run eighth inning with some aggressive baserunning. Wilson raised his marks to 10-3 with a 3.11 ERA by allowing one run on five hits and three walks over seven frames. He struck out seven and is now 7-0 with a 2.80 ERA in his past 10 starts. He has also beaten Hernandez twice in head-to-head matchups this season and the Rangers are 5-1 in six games in which he faced another pitcher who was selected for the All-Star Game. "That just shows you he's in the upper echelon of pitchers," Washington said. "You've got to remember they have to pitch against our offense," Wilson said. "We hit the ball pretty good in Texas. Obviously, going up against a Cy Young winner like Felix, it's a challenge. You know you're not going to get too much because he has great stuff. The first-inning home run took the pressure off both me and the offense." Seattle struck in the fifth when Franklin Gutierrez led off with a single, stole second and scored on Ichiro's Suzuki's two-out single. Ichiro came to the plate with just three hits in his previous 31 at-bats and was also 8-for-38 (.210) lifetime off Wilson, but he punched a line drive over shortstop to chase home Gutierrez. The Rangers were able to regain the lead quickly in the top of the sixth. Endy Chavez led off with a single and went to second on a hit-and-run grounder by Kinsler. Andrus brought him home with a single to right-center. "I was really upset that I gave up that run," Wilson said. "That was pretty frustrating, but as soon as we scored that second run, I knew we were going to win." Kinsler's second home run gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the eighth and Andrus followed with a single to left. With Josh Hamilton at the plate, Andrus went to second on a balk and moved to third on a wild pitch. Hamilton followed with a comebacker to the mound. Hernandez grabbed the ball and looked Andrus back to third. Andrus froze with a good lead off the bag. When Hernandez turned and lobbed the ball to first, Andrus broke for home and slid in just ahead of first baseman Justin Smoak's throw. "As soon as he turned his back, I was already almost halfway there," Andrus said. "Ninety percent of the pitchers, they always just flip it, so I really anticipated everything and that helped me be aggressive." "That's part of our game," Washington said. "That's what you call heads-up baseball. It's exciting." The Rangers had reason to be excited on Saturday night. This was not just another win.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.