Rangers score plenty for Ponson

Rangers score plenty for Ponson

SEATTLE -- Here is the lesson of the night: Practice patience and fundamentals and the big hits are bound to follow.

The Rangers did exactly that, and the offensive payoff was huge. They jumped on Mariners starter Miguel Batista and reliever Cha Seung Baek for 10 runs in the first three innings and went on to a 10-1 victory at Safeco Field on Tuesday night.

The Rangers only had eight hits, but four went for extra bases on two doubles and two home runs, and they worked 10 walks off Mariners pitching. Starter Sidney Ponson accepted the massive offensive support with many thanks and pitched the Rangers to their seventh victory in their last 11 games.

"I thought we did a good job offensively," said first baseman Frank Catalanotto, who walked three times and added a hit. "Their pitcher was erratic, and we made him work. Then he had to throw the ball over the plate; we laid into it. It was a good approach one through nine by everybody in the lineup."

The Rangers' first three runs scored on offensive execution in the first two innings. Sheer firepower was big in the seven-run third inning that broke the game open. David Murphy hit a two-run home run that inning, and Josh Hamilton hit a prodigious three-run blast into the second deck beyond right field to give the Rangers a 10-0 lead.

The Rangers scored two in the first with the aid of just one hit, a leadoff double by Ian Kinsler. There were also four walks, an RBI grounder by Milton Bradley and Murphy's sacrifice fly.

Batista's control troubles contributed to the problems, but it wasn't just simply that he couldn't find the plate. All four walks came on full-count pitches, and three of them came after Rangers hitters fouled off at least one two-strike pitch. Michael Young fell behind 0-2 in his at-bat before rallying to draw a nine-pitch pitch walk.

"Batista is a guy who likes to nibble around the edges, and then make you swing at bad pitches," said Ramon Vazquez, who had two of the Rangers' eight hits. "We made him throw it over the plate."

Batista threw 44 pitches in the first inning, then immediately found himself in trouble in the second inning. Vazquez doubled, Kinsler bunted him to third and Young brought him home with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Batista threw another 21 pitches that inning and was pretty much spent. Bradley walked to lead off the third. He worked the count full and fouled off a pitch before drawing ball four.

"Tonight, we recognized Batista wasn't throwing it over the plate, and we made him work," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The thing I'd like to see is more consistency in doing that. Tonight we showed we're capable."

Murphy then jumped on the first pitch and hit it into the right-field seats for his fourth home run of the season. Batista left after a one-out, four-pitch walk to Catalanotto, but the Rangers kept it up with a two-out assault on Baek.

Young had a two-run single off him, and Hamilton followed that with a 425-foot drive into the restaurant overlooking the right-field stands. The desert-spilling blast was his seventh home run of the season to go along with a league-leading 36 RBIs.

Ponson went seven innings and allowed just one run on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. He has allowed just three earned runs in 20 1/3 innings over his first three starts and is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA on the season.

"It's really great to get runs like that," Ponson said. "You just concentrate on getting outs and let the guys behind you play baseball."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.