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SEA@TEX: Pineda strikes out four in MLB debut

ARLINGTON -- The Mariners unveiled promising pitching prospect Michael Pineda on Tuesday, but they're still looking for the offensive outburst to match their talented arms after suffering a 3-2 setback to the unbeaten Rangers.

Pineda, 22, did his part in his Major League debut, seemingly unfazed by a red-hot Rangers lineup that had bashed 13 home runs and scored 32 runs in its first four games.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder from the Dominican Republic gave up five hits and three runs over six innings and left with a 3-2 deficit after throwing 85 pitches, with one walk and four strikeouts. But Seattle got shut out for six innings by right-hander Alexi Ogando -- in his own starting debut -- and couldn't quite get over the hump against the Rangers' bullpen during a seventh-inning rally.

"It was fun to watch both those guys pitch," said Mariners second baseman Adam Kennedy, who went 2-for-4 in his first start for Seattle. "I'm biased. I thought Michael has a little better composure, but they're both great arms. They'll be battling each other for a long time, I would guess."

Ogando, a 27-year-old who was outstanding in relief in the second half last season as a rookie, gave up just two hits in six scoreless innings against a Mariners team that has now dropped three in a row after getting off to a 2-0 start.

Pineda had to deal with a little more potent foe, facing the undefeated defending American League champs in their own park in his first game in the Major Leagues.

"He did outstanding, competing against a lineup like that in his first outing at this park, where they pretty much have their way with people here," said the veteran Kennedy.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Pineda left a couple pitches up in the sixth inning, when the Rangers got to him for two runs on three hits, including doubles by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young. But he noted those are pretty fair hitters and Pineda handled himself extremely well in the tough circumstances.

"He should feel real good about it," Wedge said. "Facing that ballclub with the way they're swinging the bats right now and the way he pitched and really controlled the ballgame, you couldn't really ask for a better first outing."

Rangers manager Ron Washington was impressed as well.

"He has pretty good stuff for a young kid," said Washington. "He had a good fastball and a nice rhythm going out there, especially with runners on base. He threw some good changeups, some good splits. He was very impressive."

The lone Texas hits through five innings against the hard-throwing Pineda were a triple and double by right fielder Mitch Moreland. The run-scoring triple in the second was well struck, but it appeared Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders could have had a play on it if he'd judged it correctly.

Instead, Saunders tried to climb the wall as if it was flying away, while the ball instead struck off the fence out of reach to his left.

That blow scored Nelson Cruz, who had drawn a full-count walk and was the only other hitter to reach base besides Moreland for five innings against Pineda.

"I was playing him straight up or a little to pull, and he hit it really well," said Saunders, who is filling in for Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez until he comes back off the disabled list. "It was kind of tailing away from me, so I just put my head down and ran and peeked one time to try to see where it was hit.

"I went with my best judgment where I thought the ball was hit. I jumped up and turned to try to make a play on it and all I heard was it hit the wall."

The Mariners countered with very few well-hit balls of their own. Four of their six hits came in the seventh inning after Ogando departed. Four straight singles by the bottom hitters in the order -- Miguel Olivo, Kennedy, Jack Wilson and Saunders -- pushed across two runs.

But after loading the bases with one out when Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error, Seattle couldn't bust things open as Chone Figgins popped out to short and Texas center fielder Julio Borbon robbed Milton Bradley with a diving catch of a soft line drive.

"That was the difference late there," Wedge said. "But you know what, they had a veteran guy [Darren Oliver] out there who made pitches. And that's why he's been pitching for as long as he has. And they ended up on top."

Jamey Wright pitched two perfect innings in relief of Pineda and has yet to allow a run in 12 innings of Cactus League play and now 2 1/3 innings in the regular season.

The Mariners will send ace Felix Hernandez to the hill on Wednesday as they attempt to avoid being swept by the 5-0 Rangers in an 11:05 a.m. PT game before heading to Seattle for Friday's home opener.

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