ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -Even with a high pitch count early in the game, Colby Lewis gave the Texas Rangers the quality start they needed.
Lewis allowed four hits over seven innings despite throwing 80 pitches through the first four, and Vladimir Guerrero homered to help the Rangers beat Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners 7-1 on Tuesday night.
Lewis (5-4) had lost four of his previous five decisions before getting back on track against the Mariners, striking out five and walking three.
He retired 10 of his last 12 batters to take some pressure off an overworked bullpen that had thrown 11 1-3 innings over the previous three games.
``We all know the bullpen has been taxed a little bit,' Lewis said. ``That's just one of those deals where you want to give them a break. I'm used to going deep in games.'
Lewis finished with 119 pitches and has thrown at least 102 in each of his 12 starts this season.
Seattle totaled six baserunners in the third and fourth innings, but the Mariners were only able to come up with one run against Lewis - Rob Johnson's RBI single in the fourth.
``(Lewis) worked around some stuff that could have been damaging to him,' Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Lewis settled down with a perfect fifth that included a first-pitch groundout by Chone Figgins and strikeouts of Ichiro Suzuki and Milton Bradley.
``We let (Lewis) back in that ballgame pitch count-wise,' Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. ``That allowed him to pitch three more innings. Maybe (the Mariners were) overly aggressive, maybe not hitting the ball for base hits.'
Seattle had Franklin Gutierrez on third with two outs in the sixth, but shortstop Elvis Andrus made a nice play in the hole on Josh Wilson's grounder to preserve Texas' 2-1 lead.
The Mariners had problems handling Lewis' off-speed pitches.
``We had several opportunities to get him out of the ballgame, but credit to him for keeping us off-balance,' Wakamatsu said.
Andrus went 3 for 5 with two RBIs for the Rangers, who ended a two-game skid.
Guerrero's 422-foot, two-run drive in the seventh was his team-high 13th homer, stretching Texas' lead to 7-1 and chasing Hernandez (3-5).
Hernandez, who went 19-5 and was the AL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2009, had won four of his previous five decisions against Texas. But he's struggled in his last two outings against the Rangers, allowing 12 runs in 10 1-3 innings.
Hernandez gave up seven runs and eight hits in six innings with five strikeouts and three walks, consistently falling behind Texas batters.
Josh Hamilton got the Rangers' offense rolling with a first-inning, two-run double off the tip of the glove of left fielder Michael Saunders.
Andrus extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first-inning single but he made an error in his third straight game, throwing wildly to first on a routine grounder in the third.
The Rangers gave Lewis some breathing room with a three-run sixth on rookie Justin Smoak's run-scoring single and Andrus' two-run double to make it 5-1.
Hamilton liked the way the Rangers kept up the offensive pressure as the game wore on.
``When we get a lead, we get a little too comfortable, we get a little too relaxed instead of playing balls out,' Hamilton said. ``I was hoping we weren't going to get comfortable. I'm glad we were able to get more runs on them. Score a couple in the first and keep piling on as you go. We didn't wait until the seventh or eighth.'
NOTES: Mariners LHP Erik Bedard reported no arm discomfort following Monday's 40-pitch bullpen session. Bedard will throw in the bullpen Wednesday before taking the next step in his rehab from left shoulder surgery. ... Seattle signed RHP Scott Patterson to a minor league contract. The 30-year-old Patterson made four big league appearances for the Yankees and Padres in 2008. ... Mariners base coaches have switched spots, with Lee Tinsley moving from first to third and Mike Brumley taking over at first. Wakamatsu said the changes weren't a reflection on job performance, simply ``shaking it up a little bit.' ... Among Texas' 29 second-day draft picks was Oklahoma 3B Garrett Buechele, son of Steve Buechele, a former Rangers player and current manager at Double-A Frisco. The younger Buechele was the 556th overall selection.
The Associated Press News Service
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