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Rangers nab first place with sweep in extras

Rangers nab first place with sweep in extras

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SEATTLE -- The Rangers were no-hit for 5 1/3 innings on Sunday afternoon. They were shut out for eight innings.

But, by the time they left Safeco Field, they were something else. A first-place team.

The Rangers moved into that lofty position by overcoming the Mariners' lead in the ninth inning and pulling out a 3-1 victory in 11 innings. With the three-game sweep, the Rangers are in sole possession of first place in the American League West.

"It's a good sign," said outfielder David Murphy, who drove in both the game-tying and game-winning runs. "It means nothing on May 2, but it does mean we're playing well."

The Rangers were more thrilled about sweeping a division opponent in their own ballpark. It was the club's first three-game sweep at Safeco Field.

"Playing well on the road though is a good thing," third baseman Michael Young said. "To win the division, you have to win on the road, so that's a good sign."

Julio Borbon led off the 11th with a single to center off reliever Mark Lowe and, with Elvis Andrus showing bunt, went to second on a passed ball. Andrus then dropped a bunt that Lowe couldn't make a play on, giving him a single and moving Borbon to third.

"That's definitely a good feeling to get something going for my team like that," Borbon said. "I knew that was my role, just work the count and do something to get things going."

Lowe struck out Young, but Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to left field to bring home Borbon. Josh Hamilton's single to center moved Andrus to third, and he scored on another passed ball by Johnson.

The Rangers ninth-inning rally came against Mariners closer David Aardsma after they were held scoreless for eight innings by starter Doug Fister. Andrus led off the ninth by drawing a walk after fouling off three two-strike pitches.

"I knew he was going to be aggressive with his fastball," Andrus said. "I was just trying to hit it up the middle or the other way. After I got two strikes, I just tried to battle. I knew he was going to throw a lot of fastballs."

Said Aardsma: "You can't walk him in that situation, but in all honesty, I made him work for it. If not for that, I pitched well. But they give you a lead, no matter how you get it, you gotta win."

Andrus then stole second and, after Young struck out, scored on a single by Murphy.

"That was awesome," Murphy said. "Those situations are fun to be in. Situations like that are why you play the game. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't, but that was fun."

Rangers starter C.J. Wilson and Fister were both excellent in the second dazzling pitchers' duel between the two teams this series. Fister took a perfect game into the sixth and ended up with eight scoreless innings before Aardsma took over in the ninth.

"You've got to keep trying to win series," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Every now and then, you get lucky and sweep. Today, we got lucky and swept. The way Fister was throwing, you might not have thought we were going to do that. But they brought in the closer, we got a run off Aardsma, and we took it from there."

Wilson, throwing 114 pitches, went seven-plus innings and allowed one run on five hits. He walked three, hit one and struck out four. This was his fifth official quality start to begin the season. That's the longest such streak by a Rangers pitcher since Kevin Brown began the season with six straight in 1993.

Dustin Nippert picked up the victory, and Neftali Feliz pitched the 11th for his fifth save. The Rangers, including Chris Ray and Darren Oliver, got four scoreless innings from their bullpen. Texas relievers threw 10 scoreless innings in the three games.

Fister retired the first 16 hitters he faced before Max Ramirez lined a one-out single in the sixth. Right before that hit, Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki snatched a home run away from Justin Smoak with a leaping catch at the wall.

Fister also had a one-hitter into the eighth before Smoak and pinch-hitter Vladimir Guerrero singled with two outs. But Fister retired Borbon on a grounder to second to end the inning. Aardsma took over in the ninth.

Wilson allowed just a walk and an infield hit through three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth. Chone Figgins led off with a single, stole second and scored on Franklin Gutierrez's single to left.

Jose Lopez then doubled, moving Gutierrez to third, but Wilson escaped the inning without giving up any more runs. Milton Bradley flied to shallow left, and -- after Casey Kotchman was hit by a pitch -- Eric Byrnes struck out and Rob Johnson lined out to deep center.

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

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