Martin's two-out hit gives Rangers a walk-off win
Texas scores twice in bottom of the ninth to stun Mariners
ARLINGTON -- The Walk-off Rangers, completely dominated by Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez for seven innings and once again unable to generate any offensive support for starter Yu Darvish, pulled off perhaps their most improbable comeback of the young season on Wednesday night.
This time Leonys Martin delivered the big hit and for the fourth time in nine home dates, the game ended with the Rangers celebrating in mob fashion on the field.
"It was an unbelievable game," Martin said. "To finally win that game, unbelievable ... It's a great feeling. Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it when it happened."
Martin's game-winning single -- his second big hit of the night -- finished off a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth as the Rangers came from behind for a 3-2 victory over the Mariners and their Major League-leading fourth walk-off win.
"Tremendous victory," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's why you play nine innings. Those kinds of wins build character. We have a new group that we're going out there playing with and they're learning how to hang together and play the game until the third out is made. We pulled it off tonight."
The Rangers have won two straight for the first time since the opening series of the season and are now 4-1 in games decided in the seventh inning or later. They are 5-2 in one-run games.
"This kind of game, you play a certain amount of them, you realize you've been there before and it gives you confidence," Mitch Moreland said. "Everybody likes to win by four or five runs but that doesn't always happen. It's nice to be able to win these kinds of games."
Darvish allowed two runs in the second inning -- the first two he has allowed this season -- and that was it. He kept it 2-0 through seven before leaving with another cut on his thumb. He has yet to throw a pitch this season after the Rangers have scored a run. His only win came when Elvis Andrus hit a two-run home run in the top of the eighth after Darvish completed seven scoreless in his first start against the Rays. Other than that, the Rangers have not scored one run while he was in the game.
"A win's a win," Darvish said. "As far as the run support, it's not like I'm able to go in the hitter's box and hit but I have a lot of respect for my teammates and it is what it is. There are some days like this."
The Rangers at least had an excuse this time. Hernandez was at his best for seven innings, holding them to three hits and one walk while striking out nine. At that point he appeared headed for his second career shutout against the Rangers.
Then Martin led off the eighth with a triple -- his first extra base hit of the season -- and that changed everything. Hernandez had thrown 96 pitches and manager Lloyd McClendon pulled him from the game.
"Felix did a great job," McClendon said. "He tired a little bit in the eighth inning and said he was pretty much out of gas, so we had to go get him. But he did a fabulous job for us. I had talked to him before he went out and he said he thought he had a little bit left in the tank. But he got that fastball up and started to lose his location a little bit. And he said he was pretty much out of gas."
Charlie Furbush took over and Michael Choice's pinch-hit sacrifice fly made it 2-1. Furbush and Yoervis Medina kept it that way by retiring the next two hitters and so did Rangers reliever Pedro Figueroa, who retired the Mariners in order in the top of the ninth with visions of another comeback dancing in his head.
"When I came into the ballgame, I was positive because we had come back many times before," said Figueroa after his first Major League win. "I was really thinking about that."
The Mariners brought in closer Fernando Rodney for the ninth, and he retired Alex Rios on a fly to right and struck out Prince Fielder. But Kevin Kouzmanoff kept the inning alive with a ground single up the middle that just deflected off the glove of shortstop Brad Miller. Moreland then walked. That brought up Josh Wilson and manager Ron Washington elected to pinch-hit Donnie Murphy.
"I just had a feeling…Murph has some pop in his bat," Washington said. "I was hoping Rodney would get the ball up and he would hit one in the gap somewhere."
Instead Rodney hit a hard grounder right at Miller, who bobbled the ball for just a moment. With Moreland running hard from first, Miller rushed his underhand flip to second and it was too high. It pulled second baseman Robinson Cano off the bag and Moreland was safe to load the bases.
"I squared it up good but I hit it straight into the ground," Murphy said. "I was hoping it would take a bad hop … it looked like it handcuffed him a little bit. We got a little bit lucky and took advantage of it."
That brought up Martin and Rodney brought home the tying run with a wild pitch. That was on the first of three straight fastballs. Martin took the second one for ball two and then lined No. 3 over Miller's head for another walkoff Rangers win.
"A very well-played game," Moreland said. "We battled the whole game. The pitching was great. There was not a whole lot of offense but at the end we created some opportunities and Leonys came through."