ARLINGTON -- Mike Zunino hit two home runs and the Mariners jumped back in front of the Rangers in the American League Wild Card standings with an 8-1 victory at Globe Life Park on Wednesday.The Mariners are 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card spot, while
ARLINGTON -- Mike Zunino hit two home runs and the Mariners jumped back in front of the Rangers in the American League Wild Card standings with an 8-1 victory at Globe Life Park on Wednesday.
The Mariners are 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card spot, while the Rangers are four back.
"There's obviously that urgency that has set in," Zunino said. "We're running out of time, so we want to come together and play as well as we can. Guys have been doing that, our pitching has been great and we've been able to back those guys up."
• Wild Card standings
Zunino gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning against Rangers starter Martin Perez. He also had a solo home run to cap off the Mariners' seventh, in which they scored five runs against relievers Matt Bush and Tony Barnette.
Mariners starter Mike Leake notched his third straight win since being acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 30. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out five.
Perez had his seven-game winning streak snapped, as he lost for the first time since Aug. 4. He gave up three runs, all in the fifth on Zunino's first home run and a two-run shot by Jean Segura.
The Rangers had just five hits and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They fell to 7-21 when not hitting a home run this season.
"It's all about going back to the way we were playing a few weeks ago," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Don't worry about it, don't think too much, just keep it simple and leave everything on the field."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Zunino reaches second deck: Zunino's first home run reached the second deck in left field. It had an exit velocity of 111.3 mph, and it traveled a projected distance of 470 feet, Zunino's longest since Statcast™ began tracking data at the start of 2015. It was the fourth home run into the upper porch this season, and the 23rd in the ballpark's history. It was the longest home run at Globe Life Park this season. Zunino's previous career longest was 463 feet, also off Perez, on June 17.
"Pure luck, probably," Zunino said of hitting his two longest homers off Perez. "He's been throwing the ball extremely well. He threw me more breaking balls than usual, but we had to grind him out. He's got great stuff."
Beltre pops back: Trailing 3-1, the Rangers had runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth. Mariners manager Scott Servais brought in left-handed reliever James Pazos to face Willie Calhoun, but the Rangers countered with pinch-hitter Adrian Beltre, who had been sidelined since Aug. 31 with a strained left hamstring. Beltre's return was greeted with a standing ovation, but he popped out to center to end the inning.
"When I saw him go to home plate, I had a good feeling," Perez said. "He just missed the ball." More >
"You've known it in this clubhouse, anybody that's been around him, you're starting to see the mechanical adjustments he's made. He's in a much better position, and you're starting to see the things he can do. It's incredible. He takes a curveball that is borderline down and hits it 470 [feet] to left, then he goes to right-center two at-bats later. There's not many people in this game that can do that." -- Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, on Zunino's power
CANO GETS TOSSED
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was ejected from a game for the first time this season when he was tossed by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza in the seventh after being called out on strikes on a checked swing at a 2-2 slider in the dirt from Jake Diekman. Cano had a few words with Carapazza, then received a quick ejection. He was replaced by James Beckham in the field in the bottom of the seventh.
It was Cano's first career MLB ejection, and he can't remember the last time he was ever thrown out of a game.
"I didn't say anything. I just asked why he didn't check down and he said, 'You'd better go.' I said, 'But I'm just asking, can you check down?' And he threw me out," Cano said. "I never disrespect anybody, and I'm one who always says umpires are human, they make mistakes. If you ask a question, I don't see a reason to be thrown out. If I cursed or something, I get it. But if you ask players to be respectful, you have to show respect to the players, too."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Delino DeShields was running from first when Shin-Soo Choo swung and missed at a full-count pitch in the third. Zunino made a strong accurate throw, and DeShields was tagged out by third baseman Kyle Seager at second with the Mariners in a shift. The Rangers appealed, and the replays showed it being close, but the call stood.
Mariners: Right-hander Felix Hernandez (5-4, 4.28 ERA) comes off the disabled list to start Thursday's 5:05 p.m. PT series finale. He will be limited to about 50 pitches after being sidelined with bursitis in his right shoulder since July 31.
Rangers: Right-hander Andrew Cashner pitches against the Mariners at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday. Cashner is 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this season. He is 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his last 11 starts overall.
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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.