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SEA@TEX: Murphy singles up the middle, plates a pair

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Alexi Ogando went two innings in Saturday's 7-3 win against the Mariners. While it appeared that Ogando was transitioning to a role in the bullpen, manager Ron Washington is not ready to say that is the case.

"Everybody had a rough night last night," Washington said. "It was hot out there when the game started, so we tried to make sure that whatever innings we could get out of him, we would get it."

Even if the Rangers don't want to admit that Ogando, who has thrown more innings this season than in the rest of his professional career combined, will move to the bullpen, they haven't appeared to have told him their plan either.

"They originally told me it was because I was working a lot, more than last year," Ogando said. "They said we want to keep you strong. And I feel strong, but if they want me to do it, and that's what they say, that's their decision."

They have five months' worth of evidence from last season to suggest that Ogando can be a dominant pitcher out of the bullpen.

"It would be easy for Ogando to do one or the other," Washington said. "We've just got to decide what we want and what we need."

All they wanted from Ogando on Saturday was two innings, and he gave them two strong innings, retiring all six batters he faced, with two strikeouts.

While Ogando only went two innings, that was still more than most other regulars did in Saturday's game.

Only Craig Gentry, Michael Young and David Murphy started both Friday's American League West-clinching win and Saturday's game, as everyday players such as Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre were given the day off.

That didn't stop the patchwork lineup from hanging seven runs on reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, as the club sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning.

"They have a pretty good lineup," Hernandez said. "The guys they played today were hungry and they did great. I threw good pitches and they still hit them, so they're pretty good."

Washington said that even though he may not be starting the players who would normally start, he still expects them to win.

"I want to get one thing straight," Washington said. "When I put nine guys out there that's on my roster, we can win with them, so it's not like we're trying not to win because we put this guy out to play, that guy out to play."

In the fourth inning, Young knocked Hernandez out of the game with a line drive that hit him square in the arm. Later, it was diagnosed as a right forearm contusion. Young, who has been competing in the same division as Hernandez for the last seven seasons, wanted to make sure Hernandez was fine.

"I called him; he said he's fine," Young said. "I've had a lot of at-bats against Felix. I have a lot of respect for him. I thought seeing how he was doing was the right thing to do, and he said he's fine."

Before the game, Washington said there would be eight men in the bullpen during the AL Division Series. With Michael Gonzalez, Mike Adams, Darren Oliver, Koji Uehara and Neftali Feliz already locking down roster spots, that leaves three spots unaccounted for.

One of them will go to one of the current members of the rotation, most likely Ogando. That leaves two spots for Yoshinori Tateyama, Darren O'Day, Michael Kirkman and Scott Feldman to fight over.

Two innings into the game, Washington turned it over to the four relievers who are battling for those last two postseason bullpen spots.

"We felt like [Ogando] had done enough, he had done all that we needed to see, and we wanted to get Feldman three, but he went four," Washington said. "We wanted to see Tateyama, we wanted to see O'Day, we wanted to see Kirkman, and it all fell into place."

Judging by their performance, the four relievers do not plan on making the decision easy. All four brought positives to the game.

Feldman, who got the win, pitched four innings, giving up five hits and three runs.

Tateyama followed with his first action since Sept. 10, striking out two of the three batters he faced. He said that making the playoff roster is a goal, but to do that he must focus on pitching well on the mound.

"Every chance they give me, all I have to do is perform on the mound," Tateyama said. "That's all I can do."

O'Day befuddled Mariners batters with his sidearm motion, forcing two flyouts to center and a groundout to first.

Kirkman, the only lefty of the group, came in and made quick work of the Mariners in the ninth to close out the game. Comments