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Kirkman looks sharp as Rangers fall to Mariners

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Kirkman looks sharp as Rangers fall to Mariners play video for Kirkman looks sharp as Rangers fall to Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariner Blake Beavan pitched six innings of one-run ball and Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales both hit two-run homers on Sunday, as the Mariners beat the Rangers, 4-3, in Cactus League play at Peoria Stadium.

Fill-in starter Michael Kirkman pitched three perfect frames for the Rangers and extended his scoreless streak this spring to nine innings, but closer Joe Nathan gave up a two-run bomb to Ibanez in the fourth on the first hit of the day by Seattle.

Ibanez's home run was his third of the spring and his average now stands at .379 after a 1-for-3 day.

The Mariners lead all Major League teams this spring with 43 long balls in 22 games. That total is already the third-most in club history and just eight shy of the team record 51 hit in 32 games in 1999.

Kirkman got the start for the Rangers when right-hander Kyle McClellan was scratched due to a strained back muscle that is expected to sideline him for the next month or more.

Kirkman, 26, was a starter in the Minors, including eight games for Triple-A Round Rock last year, but has strictly pitched in relief for the Rangers in 57 appearances over the past three seasons. The lefty zipped through nine straight Mariners batters Sunday on 38 pitches, with two strikeouts.

In addition to his nine scoreless Cactus League innings, Kirkman had two shutout innings against the Brewers in a game that was rained out and not included in the official stats. He's yet to walk a batter this spring.

Beavan, one of five starters competing for the Mariners' final two rotation berths, threw three perfect innings of his own before giving up a triple to Jim Adduci and a run-scoring double by Lance Berkman in the fourth.

Jeff Baker followed with a single, but Berkman held at third and was stranded there when Beavan kept the ball in the infield for the final two outs.

That turned out to be the only damage done all day against Beavan, who gave up just the three hits and one run over his six innings with no walks and two strikeouts on 61 pitches. The former Rangers first-round Draft pick lowered his Cactus League ERA to 3.86 with six runs and 13 hits over 14 innings of work. He's also yet to walk a batter this spring, with nine strikeouts.

The Rangers' split-squad lineup included just one regular starter with Berkman at designated hitter, as Texas also is playing a pair of games this weekend in Las Vegas.

Berkman went 1-for-3 with the double and run scored and is now batting .172 on the spring.

Franklin Gutierrez started his first game in eight days for the Mariners after sitting out last week because of tightness in his legs. The center fielder went 0-for-2 with a walk.

Right fielder Jason Bay was 2-for-3 with a double for the Mariners, lifting his Cactus League average to .333 (9-for-27).

The Rangers threatened in the eighth, taking the lead on a two-RBI single from Luis Sardinas off Seattle's Kameron Loe, but Seattle answered right back with Morales' homer in the bottom of the inning.

Up next for Rangers: Yu Darvish pitches for the Rangers at 8 p.m. CT Monday against the Royals in Surprise. Darvish has pitched 8 2/3 innings this spring, allowing one run on five hits, walking two and striking out 10. Derek Lowe is also scheduled to pitch in his second outing with the Rangers since being signed to a Minor League contract. He threw two scoreless innings against the Giants on Friday.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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