Rangers fall 11-10 to Cruz, Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) -- Texas was forced to call on closer Neftali Feliz just to escape the eighth inning on Sunday because of the inability of his fellow relievers to throw strikes.
It came back to bite the Rangers in the ninth.
Austin Jackson singled in the tying run in the ninth inning, Nelson Cruz followed with a two-out single for his fifth RBI of the game, and the Seattle Mariners overcame a pair of five-run deficits to beat the Rangers 11-10.
Cruz homered twice in the first three innings, raising his major league-leading total to eight, and Jackson hit the 11th leadoff homer of his career.
But the bigger drama came in the ninth when Seattle made Feliz work and eventually got the best of the Texas closer.
"I felt great, did my job but the outcome was not what I wanted," Feliz said through an interpreter.
Texas was on track for its first series win of the season thanks to a seven-run third inning and three more runs coming in the sixth. The Rangers led 7-2 and 10-5, yet could not hold the lead either time.
Ultimately, Seattle's comeback was based around the pitching problems of starter Ross Detwiler and reliever Tanner Scheppers. Detwiler lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up a three-run homer to Cruz in the third inning that cut Texas' lead to 7-5.
Scheppers entered in the eighth with Texas holding a 10-6 lead and recorded only one out. Scheppers walked three of the four batters he faced before being lifted, and Seattle eventually scored three times in the inning setting the stage for the ninth.
"It is unfortunate to put Feliz out there in that situation," Scheppers said. "He's out there logging a lot of pitches, not what he's supposed to be doing. I just did not do my job today."
Brad Miller led off the ninth with a single off Feliz (0-1) and advanced on Seth Smith's one-out walk. Jackson lined a single to right that fell in front of Shin-Soo Choo and allowed Miller to score the tying run.
After Rickie Weeks' popout and an intentional walk to Robinson Cano, Cruz lined a 96 mph pitch into left field to score Smith. Feliz had not blown a save chance since Aug. 3 at Cleveland and allowed earned runs to Seattle for the first time in 23 career appearances against the Mariners.
Feliz threw 47 pitches, the most he's ever thrown as a reliever.
"I brought him in a situation where the game was in the balance in the eighth and it felt like we needed our best at the time against the heart of their lineup," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "He was able to get out of it and still have the lead. That's a tough situation to put him in."
Texas scored seven runs in the third inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. Jake Smolinski's two-run homer was the big blow of the inning. The Rangers added three more in the sixth inning, including RBI singles by Choo and Mitch Moreland.
But it wasn't enough.
The former Texas slugger is on a roll for Seattle.
Cruz hit a solo homer in the first and a three-run drive in the third, his first two homers this season at home. Cruz is the first player with eight home runs in a team's first 12 games since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
Cruz struck out in his next three at-bats, then got the seventh game-winning RBI of his career and first since 2012.
Over the past eight games, Cruz is hitting .485 with 14 RBIs.
"I've played against him quite a bit. This is no surprise to me," Jackson said of Cruz. "I've been on the other side of that and it's impressive to watch. I'm just glad he's on my side now."
Rangers: Moreland, who missed the previous two games with a sore elbow, came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth and remained in the game at first base. Moreland flied out to the wall in left-center in the eighth.
Mariners: Catcher Mike Zunino came close to getting his first full day off of the season, but caught the ninth inning after Jesus Sucre was pulled for a pinch hitter.
Rangers: Texas has an off day on Monday before opening interleague play with a two-game series against Arizona on Tuesday. Nick Martinez will start the opener.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma will get the start Monday night when Seattle opens a three-game series against Houston.