Mariners top Rangers to extend division lead

Julio Rodriguez hit a two-run homer and George Kirby pitched six strong innings as the Seattle Mariners defeated the visiting Texas Rangers 7-5 on Saturday.

Josh Rojas went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs and also scored three times for the American League West-leading Mariners, who won for the sixth time in their past seven games to increase their lead over second-place Texas to a season-high 7 1/2 games.

Kirby (6-5) allowed one unearned run on three hits. The right-hander walked two and struck out six in improving to 5-0 in seven career starts against the Rangers.

Seattle’s Ryne Stanek got the final out for his seventh save.

Trailing 7-1, the Rangers created some drama in the ninth. Adolis Garcia led off with a single off Eduard Bazardo, took third on a single by Nathaniel Lowe and scored on Wyatt Langford’s fielder’s choice. Travis Jankowski and Robbie Grossman singled to load the bases before pinch hitter Josh Smith walked with two outs. Marcus Semien greeted Stanek with a two-run single down the right field line to pull the Rangers within two. Rookie first baseman Tyler Locklear made a diving stop of a one-hopper by Corey Seager to end the game.

Texas right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (3-3) lasted just three innings. He gave up four runs on four hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

The Mariners opened the scoring in the bottom of the first as Rojas drew a one-out walk, went to third on Rodriguez’s single through the left side of the infield and scored on Cal Raleigh’s single to right.

Seattle extended its lead in the third as Rojas drew another one-out walk and Rodriguez hit a 1-2 cutter deep over the wall in left-center field. Raleigh and Mitch Garver walked before Dominic Canzone lined a two-out single to left, scoring Raleigh from second to make it 4-0.

The Rangers got on the board in the fifth as Ezequiel Duran bunted for a single with one out and took second on Kirby’s errant throw. Semien laced a two-out double down the left field line to trim Texas’ deficit to 4-1.

Rojas led off the bottom of the seventh with a homer to right-center field off Rangers reliever Jonathan Hernandez.

The Mariners loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth on a single by Canzone and two walks before Rojas grounded a two-run single up the middle for a 7-1 lead.