SEATTLE -- Manager Ron Washington ranked it as one of his biggest victories, even if he wasn't officially around at the end. "At the very top," Washington said after the Rangers had pulled out a 2-0 victory over the Mariners in 12 innings at Safeco Field Friday night. Reliever Darren O'Day, who didn't get the win, but may have thrown the biggest pitch, went one step further.
"Probably the best outing of my career," O'Day joked. Starter Colby Lewis could have said the same thing even if he didn't get the victory either. But he did match Mariners starter Cliff Lee pitch-for-pitch in the longest outing of his Major League career. "Colby was unbelievable," third baseman Michael Young said. There was much that defied belief on Friday night at Safeco Field. First of all, there was the brilliant pitching duel between Lewis and Lee. Then, there was the Rangers bullpen, getting out of not one, but two bases loaded jams in the 10th and the 11th innings. Both times, the Mariners had the winning run at third base with less than two outs and couldn't to finish the job. Finally, there was the way the Rangers scored their two runs. Not only did they not get a ball out of the infield, they didn't even get one as far as the infield dirt. The two hits that started the rally? Young called one a "lawn dart" and the other "a trampoline ball." "It was a pretty good win ... especially the way we got it," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "They had their chances ... but after they didn't score, I said, 'They don't want to win it, let's go win it for ourselves.'" The Rangers did just that. "A crazy game," O'Day said. "It was suspenseful to say the least," outfielder Josh Hamilton added. "We caught some breaks at the end," Young said. "It's tough to get a win when Cliff Lee is on the mound. He's one of the best. But we stuck with it and battled and caught some breaks that we were able to take advantage of." Lee was making his first start of the season after being activated off the disabled list and was outstanding. He allowed three hits in seven innings, did not walk a batter and struck out eight. But Lewis outlasted him. Lewis went nine innings, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out 10 while retiring the last 21 batters he faced. "You saw two pitchers dealing," Washington said. "Colby Lewis was outstanding." The suspenseful part came after Lewis left. Darren Oliver took over in the 10th, and the Mariners got a rally started when Ken Griffey Jr. led off with a single and, after Eric Byrnes came in to pinch-run, Milton Bradley doubled. Casey Kotchman popped out and Adam Moore was walked intentionally to load the bases. Mike Sweeney, a right-handed hitter, pinch-hit for Jack Wilson and O'Day replaced Oliver. O'Day threw a slider and Sweeney hit a grounder to Andrus at shortstop for an inning-ending double play. "It just goes to show when you're in a tough situation, you can always find a way out of it," O'Day said. "As [pitching coach] Mike Maddux says, you're one pitch away from greatness." Frank Francisco found that out in the 11th. Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins led off with singles and, after Franklin Gutierrez struck out, Jose Lopez walked to load the bases. That brought up Byrnes and, on a 0-and-1 pitch, the Mariners tried to squeeze. The pitch was low and in the dirt. Byrnes started to bunt, but held back. Catcher Matt Treanor blocked the ball in the dirt and Ichiro kept coming. Treanor reached to grab it, missed it the first time, but then picked it up and tagged Ichiro for the out. It was a big play, but Washington wanted more. He thought Byrnes tried to bunt and a strike should have been called. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf disagreed and Washington was ejected for arguing. Later, Washington looked at a replay and knew the umpire was correct. "From my angle, it looked like he bunted at it," Washington said. "He said he pulled the bat back. I couldn't fathom that on a squeeze play. But he was right and I was wrong." Francisco still struck out Byrnes and the game went to the 12th. The Rangers had not had a hit since the sixth and only had one base runner reach second base all night. But all that changed quickly. Andrus, trying to protect the plate with two strikes against Mariners reliever Brandon League, hit a little pop over the mound. It looked like a sand wedge or chip shot in golf, but the ball landed behind League and well in front of Figgins, the Mariners second baseman who had no play. Young then hit a sky-high chopper off the plate that also sailed well over League's head. Shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo charged hard and fired to first, but his throw sailed past first baseman Casey Kotchman and out of play, allowing the runners to move to second and third. A wild pitch to Josh Hamilton scored one run. After Hamilton was intentionally walked, Julio Borbon hit a weak roller to Lopez at third and Young was able to scamper home with the second run. "The pitching was great tonight," Washington said. "It was great. It was great to be a part of that one."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.