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July 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Chris Shelton delivers a critical victory to Mariners, who take series from Texas Rangers

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That’s David Aardsma in the photo above, closing out the ninth for his 20th save in 22 opportunities.
Chris Shelton could not have picked a better time to deliver for the Mariners, coming through with a pinch-hit single to left field in the seventh inning. That snapped a tie game and Seattle went on to score twice that inning for a huge 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
The Mariners took three of four in this series to stay within four games of the division-leading Angels and 2 1/2 behind the Rangers.
It’s not an optimal situation heading into the All-Star Break. Yeah, the Angels beat the Yankees again. But it’s still better for the Mariners than being five games out. They have to take care of their own business and they did it this weekend. Those losses to Baltimore really hurt them, but they mitigated the damage here.
A key managerial move by Don Wakamatsu allowed that seventh inning scoring thrust to occur.


The Mariners had two out and none on when Ken Griffey Jr. notched an infield single on what could have been an error after a poor throw by shortstop Elvis Andrus drew first baseman Hank Blalock off the bag.
Wakamatsu inserted Josh Wilson in the game as a pinch-runner at that time, even though there were two out. And even though it could mean losing Griffey’s bat had the game stayed tied into the ninth, or extra innings. Wakamatsu knew Franklin Gutierrez, the next hitter, could drive one in the gap and needed Wilson’s legs out there.
Gutierrez wound up with a single, Wilson stopping at second. But having Wilson out there was big when Shelton laced a ball into left field.
Had Griffey been out there running, he might have been held up at third and maybe Rob Johnson doesn’t deliver a single after that. Or maybe Griffey gets waved around and thrown out at home.
There was no doubt with Wilson out there, though, and he scored easily.
Johnson then came through with a single blooped over the head of shortstop Andrus for the second run of the inning.
Mark Lowe locked the Rangers down from there in the eighth and David Aardsma closed out the ninth.

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