The Rangers supported McCarthy with a 15-hit night. Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley led the way with three hits each. Hamilton also had three RBIs, giving him 121 for the season. It's the 11th time in club history that a player has driven in 120 runs in a season, the sixth time in the last nine seasons.Blalock, trying to leave the Rangers with a reminder he can hit, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. He is 9-for-26 in his last six games after going 4-for-24 in his first six after coming off the disabled list. The two RBIs were his first since he was activated on Aug. 22. "He's a professional hitter," Washington said. "He's grinding, hitting the ball to the opposite field, having some good at-bats. Nobody has any worries about him." Nelson Cruz also went 2-for-4 with a triple and has six hits in his last 14 at-bats to raise his batting average to .281 in nine games since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma. That's a small sample, but that's all September offers. He is at least assured of playing every day in right field through the end of the month no matter how he does, and that might make a difference. "I'm starting to see the ball better, and my timing is there," Cruz said. "I need to be a little more patient and be relaxed, but that's going to come. It's going to come. But I'm feeling better with every at-bat." McCarthy left with a 6-2 lead before the Mariners scored two in the eighth, one each off relievers Bill White and Joaquin Benoit. That made it 6-4, but Francisco took over in the ninth and finished it off. He struck out the first two batters he faced, had pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena reach on an error, then struck out Ichiro Suzuki to end the game. Francisco is 3-for-3 as a closer since Eddie Guardado left, allowing just one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He has not walked a batter and struck out seven. He is in an audition just like others, and the initial impression has been positive. "He's in a spot right now where he doesn't want to lose," catcher Gerald Laird said. "You can see it in his eyes. He's always wanted to be a closer and got another shot tonight and mowed them down." Just another sign for the Rangers to consider in September.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less