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League shuts the door on the Rangers

ARLINGTON -- A Mariners team that had gone scoreless for 23 innings finally broke loose in the final two frames Wednesday, pulling out a 4-3 victory that snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Rangers in improbable fashion.

Seattle scored three times in the top of the ninth off Texas closer Joe Nathan, with John Jaso -- playing his first game for the Mariners -- driving in the winning run with a two-out single to score Michael Saunders.

"That was a heckuva win for us tonight," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "When you're in somebody's backyard and they've got their closer in, to snatch it back like that and then for [Brandon] League to be able to hold on, it's a great win for our guys."

Kevin Millwood was outstanding in his Mariners debut, but appeared headed for a tough loss until Seattle's bats awakened.

Nathan gave up four hits in the ninth, including doubles by Kyle Seager and Saunders before Jaso's go-ahead knock to right field. Jaso, acquired from Tampa Bay in a November trade, went 2-for-4 with a triple after not appearing in the first six games of the season.

"I'm just happy to finally get in there," said Jaso, who played designated hitter while rookie Jesus Montero made his first start behind the plate. "I'm glad it was kind of a good debut for me in a Mariners uniform. I'm just happy to be part of this club. I see a lot of good things in this team's future and I'm just glad to be part of it right now."

Rookie Lucas Luetge, a Rule 5 Draft pick, picked up his first win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before League came on to get his third save.

"It's what you dream of, to get a win and be in the box score with a 'W' beside your name," said Luetge.

Millwood received little support early from his offense or bullpen while holding the high-powered Rangers to one run and four hits in six innings.

The Mariners' scoreless streak was seven shy of the franchise-record 30 set last season, before finally crossing the plate in the top of the eighth to cut the lead to 3-1 after Jaso tripled and scored on a Dustin Ackley base hit.

Justin Smoak then singled to lead off the ninth and Seager followed with a double. Montero drove in a run with a sacrifice fly on an 0-2 count, and Saunders followed with a game-tying double to right-center. Saunders then stole third and scored on Jaso's base hit to center.

"It's huge to come back and score four runs in the last two innings to get a win, especially with a young club like we've got," said Millwood. "It should give those guys a little confidence and reassure them that it's possible."

Texas had taken a 3-1 lead when reliever Steve Delabar gave up back-to-back homers in the seventh inning to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. The rookie right-hander has now allowed four home runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Seattle's bullpen has given up eight home runs in seven games, after yielding the fewest relief home runs in the American League last season with 32. But Luetge stemmed the tide in the seventh and eighth innings and League came on in the bottom of the ninth for his third save as the Mariners improved to 4-3.

Millwood retired 16 of the last 19 batters he faced and struck out seven. He had his former team off balance for a second straight night after Blake Beavan held the Rangers to one run on Tuesday.

But the Mariners couldn't make any headway against the Rangers' Colby Lewis, who threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Seattle got five hits off the right-hander, including doubles by Ackley, Smoak and Saunders, but couldn't deliver on any of those early opportunities.

"Tip your cap to Colby Lewis. He mixed his pitches well and kept us off balance," said Smoak. "But we were able to get to Nathan there at the end. We finally put some hits together and got some guys in."

Millwood got off to a shaky start in the first when Josh Hamilton hit a sinking line drive that got under the glove of Chone Figgins in left field for a double, then scored on a Michael Young base hit to right.

Millwood needed 35 pitches to get through that inning, including a 10-pitch walk to Nelson Cruz that loaded the bases with two outs. But the big right-hander dug deep to strike out hot-hitting left fielder David Murphy after falling behind 3-0 in the count.

Millwood then kept Texas off the board the next five innings, even stranding Kinsler at third after a leadoff double and sacrifice bunt in the fifth.

"Kevin did a great job. He didn't have it early on. He was up and it was a credit to him that he was able to find it," said Wedge. "I've seen him do that so many times. He's one of the best I've ever seen in regard to controlling damage." Comments