Extra-inning outburst leads Rangers' rout
Salty's grand slam caps off six-run 10th inning off Mariners
SEATTLE -- Rangers reliever Darren O'Day picked up his first Major League victory on Tuesday. But he knew the day really belonged to Vicente Padilla."He pitched a great game," O'Day said. "That was a pretty dominating performance. I was just happy to be in there at the right time." Ultimately the Rangers don't care who is the winning pitcher. This was simply a performance that they didn't want to go to waste, and it did not. After Padilla pitched a one-hitter for eight innings in a terrific pitchers' duel against Erik Bedard, the Rangers scored six runs in the top of the 10th for a 7-2 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field. The win allowed the Rangers to take two from the Mariners while winning their fourth straight and eighth of their past 11 games. Texas is now two games over .500 and a half-game out of first place going into a two-game series with the Athletics tomorrow in Oakland. "It doesn't matter who we're playing -- well, it does matter, because Seattle is in our division -- but the important thing is we're playing good baseball," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We wanted to come on this road trip and make sure we play good baseball. This is a good start, we just need to keep the intensity up." Padilla and Bedard battled to a 1-1 draw, and it was still that way with two outs in the top of the 10th when Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock lined singles off Mariners reliever Denny Stark. At that point, the Rangers were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They also had 13 hits in the game to just one for the Mariners. "We just wanted to scatter our hits as much as we could and see how long we could play today," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. It wasn't much longer, as Byrd came through with an RBI single to left to chase home pinch-runner David Murphy. Nelson Cruz's infield single drove home another run and, after a walk to Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit one over the center-field wall for the second grand slam of his career. It's also the fifth extra-inning grand slam in Rangers history, and the first since Alex Rodriguez hit one on July 31, 2003, in Arlington. The only other extra-inning grand slam on the road by a Ranger was Bump Wills on July 19, 1980, in Baltimore. "Marlon and Cruz got the two-out RBI hits," Saltalamacchia said. "That took the pressure off me, and all I had to do was look for a good pitch to hit. This was huge. It was that we came into Seattle and swept. Now we've got to go on to Oakland and keep it going." Starting pitching has been the biggest reason why the Rangers have been rolling. Their starters are 6-1 with a 3.54 ERA over the past 11 games and are averaging 6 2/3 innings per start. But Padilla's performance on a cold and damp Tuesday in Seattle may have been the best by a Rangers starter in the past 11 games. "He was outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He really was. That was what we needed. He made all his pitches, moved the ball around in the strike zone, changed speeds at the right time and worked fast. The key was throwing strikes in all parts of the strike zone." Padilla, like Kevin Millwood the night before, did not give up a hit until the fifth during a brief rain storm that came down while the Safeco roof was being closed. With two outs in the inning, Wladimir Balentien dumped a single into left-center. The Mariners would not get another hit until the bottom of the 10th. "He had good stuff, but I think the critical thing in the ballgame is to let him get all the way to the eighth inning with [a low] pitch count," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He had 39 pitches after four innings, and that allows him to go deeper into the game and save their bullpen." The Mariners did get an unearned run in the sixth after Padilla hit Franklin Gutierrez with a pitch to start the inning, and Ichiro Suzuki drew a one-out walk. Jose Lopez then hit a potential inning-ending double-play grounder, but Kinsler let it kick off his glove for an error, allowing Gutierrez to score. That gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead, but the Rangers tied it in the top of the seventh on Cruz's home run off of Bedard. The Rangers almost took the lead in the eighth, but Michael Young, who doubled with two outs, was thrown out by Balentien, the Mariners left fielder, trying to score on a single by Jones. That would have given Padilla a chance for his second victory. Instead he left after eight innings and settled for a no-decision. He's still looking for his first victory since the Rangers' second game of the season, but he does have a 3.05 ERA in his past three starts. "I feel happy because we won, and the last couple of games I've been pitching better lately," Padilla said. "Today I had all of my pitches, but most important of all, I had control of my pitches." Padilla, who walked three and struck out four, is the first pitcher in Rangers history to throw at least eight innings and allow one or no hits and end up with a no-decision. Rangers pitchers had been 22-1 in such outings until Tuesday, with the only loss by Charlie Hough on June 16, 1986, at California. Rick Helling (April 18, 1997, against the Brewers) is the last Rangers pitcher to throw at least eight innings and allowed one or fewer hits.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.