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SEA@TEX: Bedard tosses five innings in return to hill

ARLINGTON -- Erik Bedard, making his first start in 20 months as he returns from shoulder problems, couldn't slow the red-hot Rangers on Monday as Texas hit two more home runs in a 6-4 victory over the Mariners in front of 37,618 fans at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.

But the Mariners can take some solace in having the talented left-hander back healthy on the hill as they look to bolster their rotation behind Felix Hernandez.

Bedard gave up four hits and three earned runs in five innings in his first regular-season appearance since July 25, 2009, though a rare Ichiro Suzuki error cost him another two unearned runs and helped tag him with the loss as Seattle fell to 2-2.

As usual, the low-key Bedard didn't rave about his return, though others were impressed.

"It was all right," said the 32-year-old. "I threw strikes and tried to keep the team in the game. It's been awhile. I had a rough couple years with injuries and stuff, so I'm just glad to be back on the mound."

The Rangers have slugged 13 home runs and outscored their opponents, 32-15, en route to a 4-0 start, with Mariners rookie Michael Pineda next in line as he makes his Major League debut on Tuesday night.

While Bedard surrendered long balls to Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz, the Rangers came away impressed.

"I thought he was sharp," Texas designated hitter Michael Young said after a 2-for-4 night. "Stuff-wise he was real good. It's impressive to have that kind of a layoff and come back and be that sharp."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was pleased with Bedard's outing and the way his club battled to stay in the game after falling behind, 3-0, after two innings, but said the offense needs to make more out of a night when they out-hit their opponent, 10-7.

"We need to do a better job finishing innings off," Wedge said. "We're creating opportunities for ourselves, but we need to do a better job taking advantage of those. And that will come. But you get 10-11 hits, you'd like to score a few more runs than that."

It helps, of course, when you hit the ball over the wall, as the Rangers have been doing with regularity while getting off to their best start since 1996. While Texas has clubbed 13 home runs in four games, the Mariners have two. Or exactly half of what Cruz has done on his own, as the right fielder became just the third player in the Major Leagues since 1919 -- joining Willie Mays and Mark McGwire -- to hit home runs in the first four games of the season with his 419-foot blast off a Bedard changeup in the fourth.

The first-inning shot by Andrus was a little less expected, given it was the first long ball in 705 at-bats by the slick-fielding shortstop as he got his hands inside on a pretty good cutter.

Equally unexpected was Ichiro's miscue in right field. A day after Milton Bradley and Ryan Langerhans misplayed fly balls in the sun, the 10-time Gold Glove winner joined the un-fun by having a line drive by Yorvit Torrealba deflect off his glove and chest in the second inning.

"It was one of those low line drives," Wedge said. "He was aggressive coming in, but got caught in between and it handcuffed him a little bit."

The error led to a pair of unearned runs when Julio Borbon, the No. 9 hitter in the Rangers' loaded lineup, laced a triple to the right-center gap.

On the flip side, Jack Wilson saved Seattle reliever David Pauley with a spectacular double play in the sixth, fielding a grounder up the middle by Torrealba and somehow toe-tapping the bag as he passed over it, then managed to stay upright and throw back across his body to double up Torrealba at first.

Pitching in relief of Bedard, Pauley struggled for the second straight day, loading the bases on a double and two walks, before Wilson's gem and a flyout by Borbon allowed him to escape with just one run allowed.

Derek Holland, a 24-year-old left-hander who broke camp as the Rangers' No. 5 starter, kept the Mariners off balance enough to pick up the win as he gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings.

Bradley went 3-for-4 for Seattle, including a hustle double in the eighth, to raise his batting average to .353. Justin Smoak also continued his nice start with a 2-for-4 day that included an RBI double in the fourth. He's batting .385. Comments