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SEA@TEX: Mariners fall on a walk-off single

ARLINGTON -- Despite their relative inferiority in the American League West standings, the last-place Mariners seemed to be on solid ground Tuesday night against the first-place Rangers.

They had solid work from the starting pitcher, an element that has been common this season for the Mariners. They even had adequate run support, something much more rare these days for Seattle.

Still, by the end, all the Mariners had was another loss, 7-6. Their lead evaporated in the final three innings and they were overtaken when Josh Hamilton singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Texas has three walk-off wins in the past 12 games and three late-inning comebacks in the past five games.

"I don't think anybody's comfortable with a three-run lead against these guys here," said Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson, who was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. "Those guys, you can't keep them down for very long."

Seattle wasted the work of rookie starter Michael Pineda, who allowed three runs on five hits and two walks in six innings.

Seattle's bullpen fell victim to control problems in the late innings. Josh Lueke walked one and Jeff Gray, who shouldered the loss, walked three.

"Three out of the last four runs that scored were walks," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "That was the difference late in the ballgame. That's what killed us. You can't give a team like that free passes."

In the ninth, Ian Kinsler, the final batter Gray faced, walked to start the inning and later scored the winning run. Aaron Laffey took the mound for Seattle, which was rendered helpless on a perfect bunt single by Endy Chavez.

Hamilton then ripped the walk-off winner to left-center field.

Kinsler's towering two-run homer in the seventh got the Rangers' rally started after Seattle took an early 6-3 lead.

Then in the eighth, an unsuccessful pickoff attempt helped the Rangers score the tying run, as Nelson Cruz bolted for second just an instant before Gray threw to first. Mike Carp's throw to second was barely too late.

"That's where they are and where we are right now," Wedge said. "It was just perfect timing. No way to defend that ... if it's a fraction of a second earlier, [Gray] steps off and we can take the out."

Instead, Yorvit Torrealba doubled home Cruz and Pineda's chance at the win was gone. The no-decision spoiled a promising night from Pineda, who battled well in his first outing since July 30.

Pineda, who entered Tuesday with a solid 3.53 ERA but had to rely on just 3.38 runs per game from his offense, was in position to win after his team scored six quick runs off Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings in the second-shortest start of his 22-start career.

Seattle rocked Ogando for eight hits and two walks.

Early on, it looked as if Pineda wouldn't hang around long either, as all three runs he allowed came in the first two innings. Six of the first 12 hitters he faced reach base -- two of them on walks, one on a double and another on a solo homer by Chavez.

Chavez singled in another run in the second, but then Pineda somehow found a way to get comfortable in the stifling heat of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The game-time temperature was 105 degrees.

"I liked the weather," Pineda said. "My arm was loose pretty quick."

Pineda zipped through the Rangers' lineup for the rest of his time on the mound, with only one of the last 14 batters he faced reaching base.

"I had a couple little troubles, but my arm felt strong today," Pineda said.

After Chavez's RBI single, Pineda retired the next 11 batters in order. He struck out four Tuesday, all after Chavez's hit.

"I was impressed with the way he was able to put up zeros after he struggled in the first couple innings," Wedge said of the 22-year-old pitcher.

The Mariners have lost 10 of 12 games against the Rangers this season.

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