SEATTLE (AP) — Alex Claudio put his worries aside and made sure Rougned Odor’s grand slam did not go to waste.
Odor capped a seven-run fourth inning in style and Claudio earned a six-out save to preserve Texas’ 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners as the Rangers made up ground in the playoff chase Wednesday night.
“What a gutsy performance the last two nights for him,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said of Claudio, whose family is in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. “All of our hearts go out for these guys and everybody in Puerto Rico and all their families.”
The Rangers moved within 2½ games of Minnesota for the second AL wild card after the Twins lost 11-3 to the New York Yankees. Seattle dropped its fifth straight and remained four games behind Minnesota.
“We’ve got 11 to play,” Banister said. “We’ve still got some yard work to do. We’ve got to go out and continue to play good baseball and continue to get good starts from our starting pitcher.”
Seattle, which trailed 7-1 early, pulled to 8-5 on Robinson Cano’s two-run single in the seventh but then left the bases loaded. The Mariners made it 8-6 in the eighth on consecutive doubles by Mike Zunino and Ben Gamel.
“Our guys kept fighting,” manager Scott Servais said. “Proud of the group there. We kind of knew what we were up against at that point in the game, and we did not quit until the last out.”
Andrew Cashner (10-10) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for Texas. He struck out two and walked three. Claudio got six outs for his 10th save.
“We wouldn’t be where we’re at right now without him,” Cashner said of Claudio. “Especially with everything he’s dealing with back home. For him to give us two huge innings tonight against a good ballclub, that’s kind of what he’s done all season. He comes in in big spots, and he’s the same guy. He’s just calm, collected and makes pitches.”
Longtime ace Felix Hernandez (5-5), making his second start for Seattle since coming off the disabled list, allowed six runs — five earned — on two hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Texas capitalized on two errors to set up the decisive outburst in the fourth. Hernandez retired his first nine hitters before walking Delino DeShields to open the inning.
Shin-Soo Choo singled to right, with DeShields taking third on an error by Mitch Haniger. Third baseman Kyle Seager then mishandled Elvis Andrus’ bouncer, allowing DeShields to score. Adrian Beltre walked to load the bases and Nomar Mazara followed with a two-run single to make it 3-1.
After Joey Gallo struck out, Robinson Chirinos walked to load the bases again. Andrew Albers relieved and Odor drove a 1-2 pitch to right-center for his 30th home run.
“The first three innings, I was going after hitters,” said Hernandez, limited to 15 starts this season because of injuries. “I was throwing a lot of strikes. That was the difference from the first three and the fourth.”
Texas added a run in the sixth on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Choo, robbed of a grand slam on a leaping catch above the wall by center fielder Guillermo Heredia.
The Mariners loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but Cashner allowed just one run on a double-play grounder.
Solo homers by Nelson Cruz in the fifth, his 34th, and Haniger in the first, his 14th, accounted for Seattle’s first two runs.
“They hurt, there’s no question about it,” Servais said of the loss. “It definitely hurts. I think everybody feels it in our clubhouse. We have to play better baseball. You’re not going to the playoffs if you continue to make errors and don’t execute in critical situations, and pitches. That’s where we’re at. That’s the reality of it.”
HANIGER STAYS HOT
Haniger, whose two stints on the disabled list cost him 60 games, has reached base safely in 17 of his last 19 games. During that span, he is hitting .388 with six home runs, six doubles, 13 RBIs and 15 runs.
Mariners RHP Tony Zych (right elbow), on the 10-day DL, threw a bullpen but is not ready to return. “It wasn’t as good as he was hoping, which is a little disappointing considering we’d love to have him back,” Servais said. “I’m not saying he can’t be back, but I was kind of hoping he’d do cartwheels as he came out of the bullpen. That wasn’t quite the case.”
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.96 ERA) starts the finale of the three-game series Thursday night. Hamels is 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA in his last five starts. He is 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA in six career starts at Safeco Field.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (12-4, 2.98) makes his second start after more than a month on the DL. Paxton struggled with command in his return, allowing three runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings with two walks and two wild pitches.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball