ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Joe Saunders was the winning pitcher the last time he pitched against Yu Darvish at Rangers Ballpark.
That was in a playoff game. This was the regular season.
Saunders lost his seventh consecutive regular-season start at Texas, his first pitching for Seattle, after the Rangers had their biggest inning of the season against the left-hander to beat the Mariners 7-0 on Friday night.
``I thought Saunders had good stuff tonight. That one inning he got up a little bit and started falling behind. They're a good hitting ball club and that's when they got him,' manager Eric Wedge said. ``We were in it halfway through. We just never got anything going offensively.'
Yu Darvish (3-1) pitched seven scoreless innings for his 10th career 10-strikeout game, in his 33rd start for the Rangers. He allowed only three hits and walked three.
In the AL wild-card playoff game at Texas last October, Saunders pitched into the sixth and won for the Baltimore Orioles in their 5-1 victory over Darvish. But Saunders is now 0-7 with a 9.91 ERA in seven regular-season starts at Rangers Ballpark, the first six for the Los Angeles Angels.
Saunders allowed seven runs and nine hits over 4 2-3 innings this time. He walked three with no strikeouts and was gone after Craig Gentry's two-run triple in the fifth.
``It was a weird game, weird innings where you make a pitch and they find a hole,' Saunders said. ``You tell yourself to keep making pitches and keep hitting spots and things will turn around. Things just kind of started snowballing on us.'
Jeff Baker had a two-out solo homer in the second for the Rangers, who added a six-run fifth. That was twice as many runs as they had scored in any inning this season.
Texas loaded the bases in the fifth on two singles and a walk before A.J. Pierzynski snapped a 4-for-25 skid with a two-run single. Another run scored on a grounder before Craig Gentry sent a drive that rolled to the wall after left fielder Raul Ibanez slipped and fell when trying to field the ball that then bounced over his head. That chased Saunders, and Kinsler had a double to greet reliever Hector Noesi and sent Gentry home.
The Mariners struck out 13 times overall, and have 44 their last three games. They had 19 strikeouts Wednesday against Detroit, and followed with 12 more on Thursday. The Tigers starters in those games were Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who are 2-3 in the AL behind Darvish, whose 38 Ks lead the majors.
``We have faced good pitchers. But we're a lot better than that,' Wedge said. ``The one thing is hitting with two strikes. We gotta do a better job. There's certain things we need to do prior to that to create damage. We're capable and we should do a better job.'
Robbie Ross got all three of his outs on strikeouts in his scoreless inning after relieving Darvish, even as Seattle loaded the bases with the help of a hit batsman and an error.
Michael Kirkman pitched the ninth to close out the Rangers' third shutout of the season. Seattle was held scoreless for the first time this season.
Darvish had last started the previous Friday night at Seattle, when he gave up three runs in the first inning of a 3-1 loss. The Rangers had planned in advance to skip the Japanese ace's scheduled start at the Chicago Cubs because of the cool weather - and the game that would have been his turn to pitch ended up being rained out anyway.
``I don't know if that many days of rest affected my pitching,' Darvish said through his translator. ``But I'd rather have pitched today than yesterday in cold weather in Chicago.'
Seattle, the only team that has beaten Darvish three times, has now gone 12 innings in a row without a run against right-hander from Japan.
The first Seattle out not a strikeout came with speedy Endy Chavez leading off the third. Chavez tried to bunt for a hit, but Darvish bounced off the mound for a barehanded grab of the ball in front of Gold Glove-winning third baseman Adrian Beltre and threw out Chavez by a step.
Asked about that play, Darvish had a slight grin responding, ``I think I was better than Beltre, what do you think about that?'
NOTES: CF Franklin Gutierrez was out of the Mariners starting lineup for a second straight game with tightness in his groin though he felt better and could play Saturday. ... Seattle 3B Kyle Seager had his majors-leading ninth double. ... Seattle OF Michael Saunders, who has been on the disabled list since April 11 with a sprained right shoulder, took batting practice Friday and may resume throwing in the next couple of days.
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