Lewis continues mastery of Mariners in win
Righty dodges trouble in middle innings, gets help from bats
ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis won't have another shot at the Seattle Mariners until the first week of August.
He must find a way to hold up until then. It's going to be tough. He'll have to find somebody else to pick on in the next two months. The Angels might do just nicely.
Lewis continued his domination of the Mariners by holding them to just one run over seven innings in the Rangers' 7-1 victory at the Ballpark in Arlington on Tuesday night. Lewis outpitched Felix Hernandez, who lost for the 12th time in 26 career starts against the Rangers.
Lewis has made three starts against the Mariners and the Rangers have won all three while he has held them to two runs on 12 hits over 23 innings. Lewis is 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three starts against the Mariners and 3-4 with a 4.53 ERA in nine starts against everybody else.
Counting his time before going to Japan for two years, Lewis is 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in his career against the Mariners. That's the highest win total against any opponent.
"I don't know, it may be a comfort deal, it may not," Lewis said. "Be nice to have 30 starts against them but that's not the way it works."
He could always pick on the Angels. The Rangers have 10 games against the Angels between now and the next time Lewis might once again face the Mariners. He has three career wins against the team that began Tuesday in first place in the American League West.
"If I keep the same mix going ... all I want to do is what I've been trying to do since Opening Day, give a quality start," Lewis said. "When you face a guy like Hernandez, you have to pound the strike zone. You can't put guys on base and then give up the big hit. You have to make them earn it."
Lewis allowed baserunners. He gave up four hits and walked three, but the Mariners were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Opponents are hitting .154 off Lewis with runners in scoring position on the season. That includes 1-for-22 by the Mariners in their three games against him.
"He located his fastball really well, and he has a slider that broke late so he got a lot of swings on that," Mariners catcher Rob Johnson said. "But the biggest thing that anytime you can change speed of different pitches, it will keep hitters off balance. That's what he did."
The Rangers had a couple of huge hits against Hernandez. Josh Hamilton had the first one after Elvis Andrus and Michael Young led off the first inning with a pair of singles. Ian Kinsler grounded out on a slow chopper to third, moving both runners up, but Hernandez struck out Vladimir Guerrero.
That gave Hernandez a chance to get out of the inning without giving up a run, but Hamilton ripped a double to left-center to score both runners. Hamilton has seven RBIs in five games on this homestand.
"That was a huge hit by Ham," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He got us on the board and got us going."
Hernandez settled in after that, while Lewis had some anxious moments in the middle innings. He survived two walks and an error by Andrus in the third because the Mariners botched a double-steal attempt with Johnson getting thrown out at third.
The Mariners scored in the fourth after Andrus fumbled the ball while getting ready to complete an inning-ending double play. Johnson's run-scoring single made it 2-1 with two out and two men still on base. But Lewis retired Michael Saunders on a fly to center to end the inning.
"With Lewis, one thing he's been successful at this year is keeping hitters off balance," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "We had him at 80 pitches through four, and we end up letting him back in the ballgame pitch-count wise in the fifth and allow him to go three more innings. Maybe we were overly aggressive or just not hitting the ball for base hits at that point."
Andrus was having his own troubles, but he rebounded in the sixth. The Mariners, still down 2-1, had a runner on third with two outs in the inning. Jack Wilson hit a slow grounder to the left side, and Andrus made a running backhanded stop, then fired off balance to first for the out.
"First thought when I saw the ball was, 'Get it as fast as I can and release it as fast as I could,' " Andrus said. "I was a little upset after that error I made because [Lewis] was throwing a good game. I got focused and tried to do something positive after that error."
He did more than play defense. Andrus, who has a 13-game hitting streak, added a two-run double in a three-run sixth and the Rangers took a 5-1 lead. Guerrero's two-run home run in the seventh made it 7-1. Hernandez is now 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in three starts against the Rangers this year.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.