SEATTLE (AP) — Hector Noesi wanted his pitch to Elvis Andrus to end up in the dirt. And it did — on the warning track.
Texas used Seattle's young right-hander as another example of how the Rangers can win by taking advantage of just one poorly placed pitch.
Andrus lined a hanging two-out, two-strike pitch from Noesi into the left-center field gap for a two-run triple, Josh Hamilton made two great catches in center field and added an RBI double, and the Rangers snapped Seattle's win streak at four with a 3-1 win over the Mariners on Tuesday night.
While Hamilton continues to scuffle at the plate, his defense in the outfield remains suburb. His biggest play came in the first inning when he chased down Casper Wells' two-out bases loaded drive to deep left-center and contorted his body to make the catch on the warning track. He then robbed Alex Liddi of at least a double with a leaping grab crashing into the wall leading off the third.
"It says 405 out there, but it plays like 445," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Andrus' triple in the third came after Noesi (2-5) hung a 1-2 breaking ball and Andrus drove it to the wall in left-center to give the Rangers the lead. Hamilton followed by dumping his double on the chalk of the left-field line.
"More times than not when you hang a breaking ball or you make a mistake it gets hit," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "You're not going to be perfect out there."
Considering the lineup he was facing, Noesi was close to flawless. He held the Rangers to a season-low four hits, pitching eight strong innings and striking out a career-high seven. It was the third time in his last four starts that Noesi finished off at least seven innings.
But Noesi can't get back the third and his curveball to Andrus that was supposed to bounce in the dirt around home plate and not hang at eye level.
It didn't help Noesi that Seattle missed on its chance at getting to Texas starter Matt Harrison in the first inning. After throwing 35 pitches and barely escaping the first inning, Harrison (5-3) was nearly unhittable. Harrison retired 20 of 24 batters between the second and seventh innings, giving up hits to Michael Saunders, a pair to Brendan Ryan and watching Liddi reach on an error.
The reason Harrison got out of the first was thanks to his All-Star center fielder. The Mariners got a two-out RBI single from Justin Smoak to take an early lead and worked nine- and eight-pitch at-bats in the inning off Harrison driving his pitch count up early. But Wells didn't hesitate jumping on Harrison's first pitch and driving it to deep left-center field. Hamilton sprinted to the warning track then leaned back and caught Wells' drive above his head, likely keeping the bases from clearing.