SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz finished 1-for-5 with a single and two strikeouts on Saturday in his first start for the Rangers since coming off the disabled list. It was also his first start since Aug. 28, when he strained his left hamstring.

"I'm kind of lost with my at-bats," Cruz said. "My timing wasn't there, but that's something to expect. You hope it clicks, but I don't know when. It could click in one day, but the more at-bats I take, the better that I feel."

Cruz said the hamstring was fine. He was even able to run hard enough to avoid grounding into a double play in the ninth inning on a ball hit to shortstop.

"When I first started running, I was pushing it and then I said, 'Hey, slow down,'" Cruz said. "But it didn't bother me."

There is still a possibility that Cruz can start in right field on Tuesday against the Athletics. Manager Ron Washington said that he is considering that possibility but has not made a final decision.

"I should be good if they want me to," Cruz said.

Gonzalez adjusts to situational role in Texas

SEATTLE -- Rangers reliever Michael Gonzalez struck out Mike Carp to lead off the eighth inning on Saturday in a 7-6 victory over the Mariners. Then he had to give up the ball.

Rangers manager Ron Washington brought in right-hander Mike Adams to get the next two hitters. Both were right-handed. Gonzalez admitted it was tough to give up the ball when he's not used to doing that.

"You have a love-hate relationship going on inside yourself," Gonzalez said. "You don't want to give up the ball, but you understand the situation. You understand what you were brought in for and you understand who is coming in behind you. He has been aces all year. That gives you peace of mind.

"At the end of the day I'm just thankful to be getting outs for the Texas Rangers. Two weeks ago I was pitching for a last-place team and it didn't matter."

The Rangers acquired Gonzalez from the Orioles on Aug. 31 for reliever Pedro Strop. Texas is using him as a situational left-hander against opposing left-handed hitters. That's different from when he was in the National League and one of the top setup/closer relievers. In that role, he faced both left- and right-handed hitters.

"Don't get me wrong," Gonzalez said. "I love that adrenaline rush. You can't get it anywhere else like pitching the late innings of a ballgame. But I understand the situation. It's just nice to pitch, that's all you can ask for. I told 'Wash' to put me in there anywhere he wants."

Gonzalez is also pitching for a spot on the Rangers' postseason roster. The competition is fierce, but given the team's desire for a second left-handed reliever behind Darren Oliver, he has an advantage over others.

Right now, if the Rangers go with a seven-man bullpen in the playoffs, it will certainly include Neftali Feliz, Mark Lowe, Adams and Oliver. Because the Rangers will use only a four-man rotation, one of the starters will go to the bullpen, possibly Alexi Ogando.

That takes up five spots. Gonzalez would be the sixth guy. That would leave the Rangers trying to choose among right-handers Koji Uehara, Scott Feldman, Darren O'Day and Yoshinori Tateyama as the last guy in the bullpen.

Hamilton breaks through at plate in day game

SEATTLE -- Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was 4-for-5 on Saturday with a home run that was his first in a day game this season. The four hits raised his day game average to a .207 on the season.

"Look, the thing about me and day games is over," Hamilton said. "I finally got something to help me out and it's helped me out a lot. I still prefer night games."

Hamilton has been using a different kind of eye solution that has allowed him to see the ball better during day games. That has kept it from becoming a mental thing with him.

"If you don't solve the problem, then it becomes mental," Hamilton said. "But if you do something to solve the problem and the problem doesn't persist, then it turns out it was a solvable problem."

Dave Nelson went 166 at-bats without hitting a home run during a day game back in 1972. That's the most by any Rangers player in one season.

Feliz continues dominance of West opponents

SEATTLE -- Rangers closer Neftali Feliz continues to save his best work for the American League West. Feliz retired three straight hitters to save Saturday's 7-6 victory over the Mariners.

That left him with a 0.51 ERA in 22 games against West opponents, allowing one run in 17 2/3 innings. He has been successful on all 10 save opportunities against the West.

Over the past three seasons, Feliz is 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA with 24 saves in 25 tries against the West. On the road, he has a 0.40 ERA combined in Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle while going 11-for-11 in save opportunities.

Worth noting

• The Rangers begin their instructional league on Monday in Surprise, Ariz. They will have 53 pitchers and players in instructional league and another 16 in advanced instructional league.

• Utility infielder Esteban German has returned to the Dominican Republic after the death of his mother on Saturday. His return is unknown.

• Reliever Michael Kirkman turned 25 on Sunday.