SEATTLE -- Outfielder Marlon Byrd explained it in simple terms before Friday's game with the Mariners. "We're playing for a little chunk of change," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "That's the bottom line. We wanted to make the playoffs. That was our only goal. There is no No. 2 or No. 3 goal." The Rangers earned that chunk of change by scoring three runs in the top of the ninth inning and defeating the Seattle Mariners, 7-4, at Safeco Field. The victory allowed the Rangers to clinch second place in the American League West for the second straight year after eight straight seasons of having finished no higher than third.
Finishing second in any division means some extra pocket money for every player. Last year it was worth approximately $12,000 per player. Manager Ron Washington wasn't worried about the money, but did want to keep the Mariners in the rear-view mirror this weekend. "It means everything right now," Washington said. "If you can't finish first, you want to finish second. We certainly didn't want to lose it and we certainly didn't want to share it. So we took it. It means a lot. We stayed in the race for 156 games before we got knocked out. We didn't want to get knocked out of second." The Rangers won it in the top of the ninth with a three-run rally against Mariners closer David Aardsma, who had a 2.20 ERA coming into the game. Chris Davis, who has played two straight games with a strained left hamstring, started a rally with a two-out single. Davis, limited to designated hitter, went 3-for-5 for the second straight game after missing two with the hamstring problem. "In all honesty it probably helped having two days off," Davis said, "Even though I was rehabbing the hamstring, it was good to sit back and watch a few games and take a break. It's probably helped me that I'm not trying to do anything like go up there and hit the ball out of the ballpark. Instead, I'm just doing what I can and taking nice, easy swings." Esteban German followed with a single to center and Washington replaced Davis with pinch-runner Craig Gentry. That proved wise, because Taylor Teagarden dumped a soft line drive into left for a single and Gentry was able to score easily. Teagarden was 2-for-5 on the night, including a second-inning double that helped the Rangers strike for two runs off Mariners starter Ian Snell. Teagarden is now hitting .341 (14-for-41) in his last 13 games. "I've been working on my swing all year, trying to piece things together here in the last month," Teagarden said. "I'm just keeping my approach simple. If you put the bat on the ball, things will work out and I'm hitting the ball better the other way here in the second half." After Randy Messenger replaced Aardsma, Elvis Andrus belted a double into the left-field corner to drive home two more runs. That gave Frank Francisco a three-run cushion, and he set down the Mariners in order in the ninth for his 25th save. He is the 16th pitcher in Rangers history to earn 25 saves in a season. "We had to be tough tonight, and we were," Washington said. "We were very tough. We showed what we have been about all year. I'm very happy with that win." The only one who wasn't happy was starter Brandon McCarthy. He was sitting on a three-run lead after three innings and couldn't hold it. The Mariners scored three in the fourth, then went ahead in the fifth on a leadoff double by Josh Wilson and a two-out single by Jose Lopez. That brought McCarthy's night to an end and his season as well. He wasn't too thrilled about being pulled after having thrown 76 pitches. "I would have liked to have had better results," McCarthy said. "I'm happy we won and we clinched second place but ... I'm not happy. I would have loved to know they have the confidence to allow me to work out of my own problems. "There were a few pitches here and there I'd like to have back, but for the most part, there aren't many pitches I wouldn't throw going back at them again. I'm out there giving it my all and I'd love to have the confidence put in me." McCarthy left, trailing 4-3. The Rangers tied it in the eighth after a leadoff double by Andruw Jones, his first extra-base hit since Aug. 13. German ran for Jones and ultimately scored on a two-out single by Michael Young that made it 4-4.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.